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- Barbara Blomberg, Volume 6. - 11/11 -


the short distance to the house.

With an angry glance and a few bitter-sweet words of greeting, the old dame entered the litter. Barbara preferred to walk beside hers, for clouds had darkened the sky; it had become oppressively sultry, and she felt as if she would stifle in the close, swaying box.

Four torch-bearers accompanied the litters. She ordered the knight and the two lackeys whom Quijada had commissioned to attend her to remain behind, and also refused the service of the little Maltese, who--oh, how gladly!--would have acted as a page and carried her train.

As the shipwrecked man on a plank amid the endless surges longs for land, Barbara longed to get away, far away from the noise of the festival. Yet she dreaded the solitude which she was approaching, for she now perceived how foolishly she had acted, and with what sinful recklessness she had perhaps forfeited the happiness of her life on this luckless evening.

But need she idly wait for the doom to which she was condemned? He whose bright eyes could beam on her so radiantly had just wounded her with angry glances, like a foe or a stern judge, and his indignation had not been groundless.

What had life to offer her without his love? The wantonly bold venture had been baffled. Yet no! All was not yet lost!

Suppose she should summon courage to steal back to him and on her knees repentantly beseech him to forgive her?

But she cherished this desire only a few moments. Then the angry, wronged heart rebelled against such humiliation. She had not so shame fully offended the Emperor, but the lover, and it was his place to entreat her not to withdraw the love which made him happy.

The young girl raised her head with fresh courage. What had happened more than she had expected?

Because he loved her, he had become jealous, and made her feel his anger. But if she should now persistently withdraw from him, and let him realize how deeply he had offended her, she could not fail to win the game. In spite of all his crowns and kingdoms, he was only a man, and must not she, who in a few brief hours had forced a Maurice of Saxony to sue yearningly for her love, succeed by the might of her art and her beauty in transforming the wrath of the far older man, Charles, into his former passion?

If the Italian novels with which she was familiar did not lie, not only jealousy, but apparent indifference on the part of the beloved object, fanned the heart of man to burst into fresh flames.

It was only necessary to hold her impetuous temper in check, and profit by the jealousy which had now been aroused in Charles's mind. Hitherto she had always obeyed hasty impulses. Why should not she, too, succeed in accomplishing a well-considered plan? With the torturing emotions of failure, mortification, desertion, remorse, and yearning for forgiveness, now blended the hope of yet bringing to a successful conclusion the hazardous enterprise which she had already given up as hopeless, and, while walking on, her brain toiled diligently over plans for the campaign which would compel the great general to return with twofold devotion the love of which he had deprived her.

So, in the intense darkness, she followed the light which the torches cast upon the uneven path. At first she had taken up the train of her dress; now it was sweeping the dusty road.

What did she care for the magnificent robe if she regained Charles's love? Of what use would it be if she had lost it, lost it forever?

Before the litters reached the little castle a gust of wind rose, driving large drops of rain, straw, and withered leaves-Barbara could not imagine whence they came in the month of May--into her face. She was obliged to struggle against these harbingers of the coming tempest, and her heart grew lighter during the conflict. She was not born to endure, but to contend.

The scene of the festivities emptied rapidly. The duke and Granvelle drove back to the city in the minister's carriage. Malfalconnet and Quijada, in spite of the gathering storm, went home on foot.

"What a festival!" said Don Luis scornfully.

"In former days such things presented a more superb spectacle even here. But now! No procession, no scarlet save on the cardinals, no golden cross, no venerable priest's head on the whole pleasure ground, and, moreover, neither consecration nor the pious exhortation to remember Heaven, whence comes the joy in which the crowd is rejoicing."

"I, too, missed something here," cried the baron eagerly, "and now I learn through you what it is."

"Will not the heretics themselves gradually feel that they are robbing the pasty of faith of its truffles--what am I saying?--of its salt? May their dry black bread choke them! The only thing that gave the unseasoned meal a certain charm was the capitally performed gagliarde.

"Which angered his Majesty more deeply than you imagine," replied Don Luis. "The singer's days are probably numbered. It is a pity! She was wonderfully successful in subduing the spirits of melancholy."

"The war, on which we can now depend, will do that equally well, if not better," interrupted the baron. "Within a short time I, too, have lost all admiration for this fair one. Cold-hearted and arrogant. Capable of the utmost extremes when her hot blood urges her on. Unpopular with the people to whom she belongs, and, in spite of her bold courage, surprisingly afraid of the Holy Inquisition. Here, among the heretics, that gives cause for thought."

"Enough!" replied Don Luis. "We will let matters take their course. If the worst comes, I, at least, will not move a finger in her behalf."

"Nor will I," said Malfalconnet, and both walked quietly on.

[The End of: Volume One of the Print Edition, Volume 6 of the PG Edition]

ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Attain a lofty height from which to look down upon others


Barbara Blomberg, Volume 6. - 11/11

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