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- Barbara Blomberg, Volume 8. - 4/11 -


CHAPTER VII.

Progress was very slow, for many peasants and hogs were coming toward them from the Schweinemarkt at their right.

The gate was on the second bridge, and here the carriage was compelled to stop on account of paying the toll. But it could not have advanced in any case; a considerable number of vehicles and human beings choked the space before and beyond the gate. Horsemen of all sorts, wagons of regiments marching in and out, freight vans and country carts, soldiers, male and female citizens, peasants and peasant women, monks, travelling journeymen, and vagrants impeded their progress, and it required a long time ere the travelling carriage could finally pass the gate and reach the end of the bridge.

There the crowd between it, the Hospital of the Holy Ghost, and the church belonging to it seemed absolutely impenetrable. The vehicle was forced to stop, and Gombert stood up and overlooked the motley throng surrounding it.

Barbara had also risen from her seat, pointed out to her companion one noteworthy object after another, and finally a handsome sedan chair which rested on the ground beside the hospital.

"His Majesty's property," she said eagerly; "I know it well."

Here she hesitated and turned pale, for she had just noticed what Gombert now called to her attention.

Don Luis Quijada, with the haughty precision of the Castilian grandee, was passing through the humble folk around him and advancing directly toward her.

All who separated him from the carriage submissively made way for the commander of the Lombard regiment; but Barbara looked toward the right and the left, and longed to spring from the vehicle and hide herself amid the throng.

But it was too late for that.

She could do nothing except wait to learn what he desired, and yet she knew perfectly well that Don Luis was not coming to the musician, but to her, and that he was bringing some startling, nay, probably some terrible news.

She had not met him since she had poured forth the indignation of her heart. Now he was standing close beside the carriage, but his grave face looked less stern than it did at that time.

After he had bent his head slightly to her and held out his hand to Gombert with friendly condescension, he thanked him for the kindness with which he had made room for his travelling companion, and then, with quiet courtesy, informed Barbara that he had come on behalf of his Majesty, who feared that she might not find suitable lodgings in overcrowded Landshut. The sedan chair stood ready over there by the hospital.

The longing to escape this fresh outrage from the mighty despot seized upon Barbara more fiercely than ever, but flight in this crowd was impossible, and as she met Quijada's grave glance she forced herself to keep silence. She could not endure to make the Netherland maestro, who was kindly disposed toward her, and whom she honoured, a witness of her humiliation. So she was compelled to reserve what she wished to say to the Spaniard until later, and therefore only bade her friend farewell and, scarcely able to control her voice, expressed her regret that she could not take him to the Lorberers, since his Majesty was making other arrangements for her.

Another clasp of the Netherlander's hand, a questioning glance into the Castilian's calm face, and she was forced to consider herself the Emperor Charles's prisoner.

True, her captor studiously showed her every attention; he helped her out of the carriage with the utmost care, and then led her through the moving throng of people to the sedan chair, behind which a mounted groom was holding Quijada's noble steed by the bridle.

While Don Luis was helping Barbara into the chair, she asked in a low tone what she was to think of this act of violence, and where she was being taken.

"His Majesty's command," was the reply. "I think you will be satisfied with your lodgings here." The girl shrugged her shoulders indignantly, and asked if she might only know how it had been discovered that she was on her way to Landshut; but Don Luis, in a gayer manner than his usual one, answered, "A little bird sang it to us, and I waited for you just here because, at the end of the bridge, we are most certain to meet whoever is obliged to cross either branch of the river." Then, in a tone so grave as to exclude any idea of mockery, he added, "You see how kindly his Majesty has provided for your welfare."

Closing the sedan chair as he spoke, he rode on before her.

Meanwhile contradictory emotions were seething and surging in Barbara's breast.

Where were they taking her?

Did the Emperor intend to make her a prisoner? He certainly possessed the power. Who would dare to resist him?

She could attain no clearness of thought, for, while giving free course to the indignation of her soul, she was gazing out at the open sides of the sedan chair.

Every house, every paving stone here was familiar and awakened some memory. A crowd of people surrounded her, and among them appeared many a foreign soldier on foot and on horseback, who would have been well worthy of an attentive glance. But what did she care for the Italians in helmets and coats of mail who filled the Altstadt--the main business street of Landshut--through which she was being carried? She doubtless cast a glance toward the Town Hall, where her uncle was now devising means to provide shelter for this legion of soldiers and steeds, doubtless put her head a little out of the window as she approached the houses and arcades in the lower stories, and the Lorberer mansion, with the blunt gable, where she had spent such happy days, appeared. But she quickly drew it back again; if any of her relatives should see her, what answer could she make to questions?

But no one perceived her, and who knows whether they would not have supposed the delicate, troubled face, short locks of hair, and unnaturally large eyes to be those of another girl who only resembled the blooming, healthful Barbara of former days?

She also glanced toward the richly decorated portal of St. Martin's Church, standing diagonally opposite to the sedan chair, and tried to look up to the steeple, which was higher than almost any other in the world.

Even in Ratisbon there was not a handsomer, wider street than this Altstadt, with its stately gable-roofed houses, and certainly not in Munich, where her uncle had once taken her, and the Bavarian dukes now resided.

But where, in Heaven's name, would she be borne?

The sedan chair was now swaying past the place where the "short cut" for pedestrians led up to the Trausnitzburg, the proud citadel of the dukes of Bavarian Landshut. She leaned forward again to look up at it as it towered far above her head on the opposite side of the way; the powerful ruler whose captive she was probably lodged there.

But now!

What did this mean?

The sedan chair was set down, and it was just at the place where the road at her left, leading to the citadel, climbed the height where rose the proud Trausnitz fortress.

Perhaps she might now find an opportunity to escape.

Barbara hastily opened the door, but one of her attendants closed it again, and in doing so pressed her gently back into the chair. At the same time he shook his head, and, while his little black eyes twinkled slyly at her, his broad, smiling mouth, over which hung a long black mustache, uttered a good-natured "No, no."

Now the ascent of the mountain began. A wall bordered the greater portion of the road, which often led through a ravine overgrown with brushwood and past bastions and other solid masonry.

The bearers had already mounted to a considerable height, yet there was no view of the city and the neighbouring country. But even the loveliest prospect would not have induced Barbara to open her eyes, for the indignation which overpowered her had increased to fierce rage, blended with a fear usually alien to her courageous soul.

In the one tower of the citadel there were prisons of tolerably pleasant aspect, but she had heard whispers of terrible subterranean dungeons connected with the secret tribunal.

Suppose the Emperor Charles intended to lock her in one of these dungeons and withdraw her from the eyes of the world? Who could guard her from this horrible fate? who could prevent him from keeping her buried alive during her life?

Shuddering, she looked out again. If she was not mistaken, they were nearing the end of the road, and she would soon learn what was before her. Perhaps the Emperor Charles himself was awaiting her up there. But if he asked her whether she intended always to defy him, she would show him that Barbara Blomberg was not to be intimidated; that she knew how to defend herself and, if necessary, to suffer; that she would be ready to risk everything to baffle his design and carry out her own resolve. Then he should see that nations and kings, nay, even the Holy Father in Rome- as Charles had once sacrilegiously done--may be vanquished and humbled; that the hard, precious stone may be crushed and solid metal melted, but the steadfast will of a woman battling for what she holds dearest can not be broken.

The sedan chair had already passed through half a dozen citadel gates and left one solid wall behind it, but now a second rose, with a lofty door set in its strong masonry.

When Barbara had formerly ascended the Trausnitz, with what pleasure she had gazed at the deep moat at her left, the pheasants, the stately peacocks, and other feathered creatures, as well as a whole troop of


Barbara Blomberg, Volume 8. - 4/11

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