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- Barbara Blomberg, Volume 8. - 11/11 -

see--that she was still desired, in spite of the theft which he had committed, in spite of the cruelty with which Fate had destroyed the best treasure that it had generously bestowed.

The recruiting officer was certainly a handsome man and, moreover, of noble birth. Her father wished to have him for a son, and would forgive her if she gave him the hand for which he shed.

So let him be the one who should take her to Brussels, and to whom she would give the right of calling himself her husband.

Here her brow contracted in a frown, for the journey on which she was to set out with him would lead not only to the Netherlands, but through her whole life, perhaps to the grave.

Deep resentment seized upon her, but she soon succeeded in conquering it; only the question what she had to give her suitor in return for his loyal love could not be silenced. Yet was it she who summoned him? Did he not possess the knowledge of everything that might have deterred another from wooing her? Had she not showed him more than plainly how ill he had succeeded in gaining her affection? If, nevertheless, he insisted upon winning her, he must take her as she was, though the handsome young man would have had a good right to a heart full of love. Hers, so long as the gouty traitor lived who had ruined her whole existence, could never belong entirely to another.

Once she had preferred the handsome, stately dancer to all other men. Might not this admiration of his person be revived? No--oh, no! And it was fortunate that it was so, for she no longer desired to love--neither him nor any one else. On the other hand, she resolved to make his life as pleasant as lay in her power. When what she granted him had reconciled her father to her, and she was in Brussels, perhaps she would find strength to treat Pyramus so that he would never repent his fidelity.

In the afternoon she longed to escape from the close rooms into the fresh air, and turned her steps toward Prebrunn, in order to see once more the little castle which to her was so rich in beautiful and terrible memories.

On the way she met Frau Lerch. The old woman had kept her keenness of vision and, though Barbara tried to avoid her, the little ex-maid stopped her and asked scornfully:

"Here in Ratisbon again, sweetheart? How fresh you look after your severe illness!--yet you're still on shank's mare, instead of in the gold coach drawn by white horses."

Barbara abruptly turned her back upon her and went home.

As she was passing the Town Hall Pyramus Kogel left it, and she stopped as he modestly greeted her.

Very distinguished and manly he looked in his glittering armour, with the red and yellow sash and the rapier with its large, flashing basket-hilt at his side; yet she said to herself: "Poor, handsome fellow! How many would be proud to lean on your arm! Why do you care for one who can never love you, and to whom you will appear insignificant to the end?"

Then she kindly clasped the hand which he extended, and permitted him to accompany her home. On the Haidplatz she asked him whether he had read the letter which he brought from her father.

He hesitatingly assented. Barbara lowered her eyes, and added softly:

"It is my own dear father to whom you have been kind, and my warmest gratitude is due to you for it."

The young officer's heart throbbed faster; but as they turned into Red Cock Street she asked the question:

"You are going from here to Brussels, are you not?"

"To Brussels," he repeated, scarcely able to control his voice.

She raised her large eyes to him, and, after a hard struggle, the words escaped her lips:

"I learned in Landshut, and it was confirmed by my father's letter, that you are aware of what I am accused, and that you know--I committed the sin with which they charge me."

In the very same place where, on an evening never to be forgotten, he had received the first sharp rebuff from Barbara, she now confessed her guilt to him--he doubtless noticed it. It must have seemed like a sign from heaven that it was here she voluntarily approached him, nay, as it were, offered herself to him. But he loved her, and he would have deemed it unchivalrous to let her feel now that their relation to one another had changed. So he only exclaimed with joyous confidence:

"And yet, Barbara, I trustfully place happiness and honour in your beloved hands. You have long been clear to me, but now for the first time I believe confidently and firmly that I have found in you the very wife for me. The bitter trial imposed upon you--I knew it in Landshut-- bowed your unduly obstinate nature, and if you only knew how well your modest manner becomes you! So I entreat permission to accompany you home."

Barbara nodded assent, and when he had mounted the steep staircase of the house before her he stopped in front of the narrow door, and a proud sense of satisfaction came over him at the thought that the vow which he had made in this spot was now fulfilled.

Her father had failed to bend this refractory, wonderfully beautiful iron; he had hoped to try with better fortune, but Fate had anticipated him, and he was grateful.

Full of blossoming hopes, he now asked, with newly awakened confidence, whether she would permit him to cross her threshold as a suitor and become his dear and ardently worshipped wife, and the low "Yes" which he received in response made him happy.

A few days after he married her, and journeyed with her on horseback to the Netherlands.

On the way tidings of the battle of Muhlberg reached them. The Emperor Charles had utterly routed the Protestants. He himself announced his great victory in the words, "I came, I saw, and God conquered."

When Pyramus told the news to his young wife, she answered quietly, "Who could resist the mighty monarch!"

In Brussels she learned that the Emperor had taken the Elector of Saxony captive on the battlefield, but the Landgrave of Hesse had been betrayed into his power by a stratagem which the Protestants branded as base treachery, and used to fill all Germany with the bitterest hatred against him; but here Barbara's wrath flamed forth, and she upbraided the slanderous heretics. It angered her to have the great sovereign denied his due reverence in her own home; but secretly she believed in the breach of faith.

Barbara Blomberg, Volume 8. - 11/11

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