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Title: Barbara Blomberg — Volume 10
Author: Ebers, Georg
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Barbara Blomberg — Volume 10" ***

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BARBARA BLOMBERG

By Georg Ebers

Volume 10.


CHAPTER XVI.

On the way home Barbara often pressed her left hand with her right to
assure herself that she was not dreaming.

This time she found her husband in the house.  At the first glance
Pyramus saw that something unusual had happened; but she gave him no time
to question her, only glanced around to see if they were alone, and then
cried, as if frantic: "I will bear it no longer.  You must know it too.
But it is a great secret."  Then she made him swear that he, too, would
keep it strictly, and in great anxiety he obeyed.

He, like Barbara's father, had supposed that the Emperor's son had
entered the world only to leave it again.  Barbara's "I no longer have a
child; it was taken from me," he had interpreted in the same way as the
old captain, and, from delicacy of feeling, had never again mentioned the
subject in her presence.

While taking the oath, he had been prepared for the worst; but when his
wife, in passionate excitement, speaking so fast that the words fair
tumbled over one another, told him how she had been robbed of her boy;
how his imperial father had treated him; how she had longed for him;
what prayers she had uttered in his behalf; how miserable she had been
in her anxiety about this child; and, now, that Dona Magdalena's letter
permitted her to cherish the highest and greatest hopes for the boy,
the tall, strong man stood before her with downcast eyes, like a detected
criminal, his hand gripping the edge of the top of the table which
separated her from him.

Barbara saw his broad, arched chest rise and fall, and wondered why his
manly features were quivering; but ere she had time to utter a single
soothing word, he burst forth: "I made the vow and will be silent; but
to-morrow, or in a year or two, it will be in everybody's mouth, and
then, then  My good name!  Honour!"

Fierce indignation overwhelmed Barbara, and, no longer able to control
herself, she exclaimed: "What did it matter whether Death or his father
snatched the child from me?  The question is, whether you knew that I am
his mother, and it was not concealed from you.  Nevertheless, you came
and sought me for your wife!  That is what happened!  And--you know this
--you are as much or little dishonoured by me, the mother of the living
child, as of the dead one.  Out upon the honour which is harmed by
gossip!  What slanderous tongues say of me as a disgrace I deem the
highest honour; but if you are of a different opinion, and held it when
you wooed me, you would be wiser to prate less loudly of the proud word
'honour,' and we will separate."

Pyramus had listened to these accusations and the threat with trembling
lips.  His simple but upright mind felt that she was right, so far as he
was concerned, and she was more beautiful in her anger than he had seen
her since the brilliant days of her youthful pride.  The fear of losing
her seized his poor heart, so wholly subject to her, with sudden power
and, stammering an entreaty for forgiveness, he confessed that the
surprise had bewildered him, and that he thought he had showed in the
course of the last ten years how highly, in spite of people's gossip,
he prized her.  He held out his large honest hand with a pleading look
as he spoke, and she placed hers in it for a short time.

Then she went to church to collect her thoughts and relieve her
overburdened heart.  Boundless contempt for the man to whom she was
united filled it; yet she felt that she owed him a debt of gratitude,
that he was weak only through love, and that, for her children's sake,
she must continue to wear the yoke which she had taken upon herself.

His existence henceforth became of less and less importance to her
feelings and actions, especially as he left the management of their two
boys to her.  He had reason to be satisfied with it, for she provided
Conrad with the best instruction, that the might choose between the army
and the legal profession; his younger brother she intended for the
priesthood, and the boy's inclination harmonized with her choice.

The fear that the Emperor Charles might yet commit the child she loved
to the monastery never left her.  But she thought that she might induce
Heaven to relinquish its claim upon her John, whom, moreover, it seemed
to have destined for the secular life, by consecrating her youngest child
to its service.

While she did not forget her household, her mind was constantly in Spain.
Her walks were usually directed toward the palace, to inquire how the
recluse in San Yuste was faring, and whether any rumour mentioned her
imperial son.

After the great victory gained by Count Egmont against the military
forces of France, eleven months after the battle of St. Quentin, there
was enough to be seen in Brussels.  The successful general was greeted
with enthusiastic devotion.  Egmont's name was in every one's mouth, and
when she, too, saw the handsome, proud young hero, the idol, as it were,
of a whole nation, gorgeous in velvet, silk, and glittering gems, curbing
his fiery steed and bowing to the shouting populace with a winning smile,
she thought she caught a glimpse of the future, and beheld the
predecessor of him who some day would receive similar homage.

Why should she not have yielded to such hopes?  Already there was a
rumour that the daughter of the Emperor and that Johanna Van der Gheynst,
who had been Charles's first love, Margaret of Parma, her own son's
sister, had been chosen to rule the Netherlands as regent.

Why should less honours await Charles's son than his daughter?

But the festal joy in the gay capital was suddenly extinguished, for in
the autumn of the year that, in March, had seen Ferdinand, the Emperor's
brother, assume the imperial crown, a rumour came that the recluse of San
Yuste had closed his eyes, and a few days after it was verified.

It was Barbara's husband who told her of the loss which had befallen her
and the world.  He did this with the utmost consideration, fearing the
effect of this agitating news upon his wife; but Barbara only turned
pale, and then, with tears glittering in her eyes, said softly, "He, too,
was only a mortal man."

Then she withdrew to her own room, and even on the following day saw
neither her husband nor her children.  She had long expected Charles's
death, yet it pierced the inmost depths of her being.

This sorrow was something sacred, which belonged to her and to her alone.
It would have seemed a profanation to reveal it to her unloved husband,
and she found strength to shut it within herself.

How desolate her heart seemed!  It had lost its most distinguished object
of love or hate.

Through long days she devoted herself in quiet seclusion to the memory of
the dead, but soon her active imagination unfolded its wings again, and
with the new grief mingled faint hopes for the boy in Spain, which
increased to lofty anticipations and torturing anxiety.

The imperial father was dead.  What now awaited the omnipotent ruler's
son?

How had Charles determined his fate?

Was it possible that he still intended him for the monastic life, now
that he had become acquainted with his talents and tastes?

Since Barbara had learned that her son had won his father's heart, and
that the Emperor, as it were, had made him his own with a kiss, she had
grown confident in the hope that Charles would bestow upon him the
grandeur, honours, and splendour which she had anticipated when she
resigned him at Landshut, and to which his birth gave him a claim.
But her early experience that what she expected with specially joyful
security rarely happened,--constantly forced upon her mind the, fear that
the dead man's will would consign John to the cloister.

So the next weeks passed in a constant alternation of oppressive fears
and aspiring hopes, the nights in torturing terrors.

All the women of the upper classes wore mourning, and with double reason;
for, soon after the news of the Emperor's death reached Brussels, King
Philip's second wife, Mary Tudor, of England, also died.  Therefore no
one noticed that Barbara wore widow's weeds, and she was glad that she
could do so without wounding Pyramus.

A part of the elaborate funeral rites which King Philip arranged in
Brussels during the latter part of December in honour of his dead father
was the procession which afforded the authorities of the Brabant capital
an opportunity to display the inventive faculty, the love of splendour,
the learning, and the wit which, as members of flourishing literary
societies, they constantly exercised.  In the pageant was a ship with
black sails, at whose keel, mast, and helm stood Hope with her anchor,
Faith with her chalice, and Love with the burning heart.  Other similar
scenic pieces made the sincerity of the grief for the dead questionable,
and yet many real tears were shed for him.  True, the wind which swelled
the sails of the sable ship bore also many an accusation and curse; among
the spectators of the procession there were only too many whose mourning
robes were worn not for the dead monarch, but their own nearest
relatives, whom his pitiless edicts had given to the executioner
as readers of the Bible or heterodox.

These displays, so pleasing to the people of her time and her new home,
were by no means great or magnificent enough for Barbara.  Even the most
superb show seemed to her too trivial for this dead man.

She was never absent from any mass for the repose of his soul, and she
not only took part outwardly in the sacred ceremony, but followed it with
fervent devotion.  As a transfigured spirit, he would perceive how she
had once hated him; but he should also see how tenderly she still loved
him.

Now that he was dead, it would be proved in what way he had remembered
the son whom, in his solitude, he had learned to love, what life path
John had been assigned by his father.

But longingly as Barbara thought of Spain and of her boy, often as she
went to the Dubois house and to the regent's home to obtain news, nothing
could be heard of her child.

Many provisions of the imperial will were known, but there was no
mention of her son.  Yet Charles could not have forgotten him, and Adrian
protested that it would soon appear that he had not omitted him in his
last will, and this was done in a manner which indicated that he knew
more than he would or could confess.

All this increased Barbara's impatience to the highest degree, and
induced her to watch and question with twofold zeal.  On no account would
she have left the capital during this period of decision, and, though her
husband earnestly entreated her to go to the springs, whose waters had
proved so beneficial, she remained in Brussels.

In August she saw King Philip set out for Spain, and Margaret of Parma,
her son's sister, assume the government of the Netherlands as regent.

On various occasions she succeeded in obtaining a near view of the
stately-lady, with her clever; kindly and, spite of the famous down
on her upper lip, by no means unlovely features, and her attractive
appearance gave Barbara courage to request an audience, in order to learn
from her something about her child.  But the effort was vain, for the
duchess had had no news of the existence of a second son of her father;
and this time it was Granvelle who prevented the regent from receiving
the woman who would probably have spoken to her of the boy concerning
whose fate King Philip had yet reached no determination.

Barbara spent the month of October in depression caused by this fresh
disappointment, but it, too, passed without bringing her any
satisfaction.

It seemed almost foolish to lull herself further with ambitious
expectations, but the hope a mother's heart cherishes for her child does
not die until its last throb; and if the Emperor Charles's will did not
give her John his rights, then the gracious Virgin would secure them, if
necessary, by a miracle.

Her faithful clinging to hope was rewarded, for when one day, with
drooping head, she returned home from another futile errand, she found
Hannibal Melas there, as bearer of important news.

The Emperor's last will had a codicil, which concerned a son of his
Majesty; but, a few days before his end, Charles had also remembered
Barbara, and commissioned Ogier Bodart, Adrian's successor, to buy a life
annuity for her in Brussels.  Hannibal had learned all this from secret
despatches received by Granvelle the day before.  Informing her of their
contents might cost him his place; but how often she had entreated him to
think of her if any news came from Valladolid of a boy named Geronimo or
John, and how much kindness she had showed him when he was only a poor
choir boy!

At last, at last the most ardent desire of the mother's heart was to be
fulfilled.  She saw in the codicil the bridge which would lead her son to
splendour and magnificence, and up to the last hour of his life the
Emperor Charles had also remembered her.

She felt not only relieved of a burden, but as if borne on wings.  Which
of these two pieces of news rendered her the happier, she could not have
determined.  Yet she did not once think of the addition to her income.
What was that in comparison to the certainty that to the last Charles did
not forget her!

It made her husband happy to see her sunny cheerfulness.  Never had she
played and romped with the children in such almost extravagant mirth.
Nay, more!  For the first time the officer's modest house echoed with the
singing of its mistress.

Though her voice was no longer so free from sharpness and harshness as in
the old days, it by no means jarred upon the ear; nay, every tone
revealed its admirable training.  She had broken the long silence with
Josquin's motet, "Quia amore langueo," and in her quiet chamber dedicated
it, as it were, to the man to whom this cry of longing had been so dear.
Then, in memory of and gratitude to him, other religious songs which he
had liked to hear echoed from her lips.

The little German ballads which she afterward sang, to the delight of her
boys, deeply moved her husband's heart, and she herself found that it was
no insult to art when, with the voice that she now possessed, she again
devoted herself to the pleasure of singing.

If the codicil brought her son what she desired, she could once more, if
her voice lost the sharpness which still clung to it, serve her beloved
art as a not wholly unworthy priestess, and then, perchance, she would
again possess the right, so long relinquished, of calling herself happy.

She would go the next day to Appenzelder, who always greeted her kindly
when they met in the street, and ask his advice.

If only Wolf had been there!

He understood how to manage women's voices also, and could have given her
the best directions how to deal with the new singing exercises.

It seemed as though in these days not one of her wishes remained
unfulfilled, for the very next afternoon, just as she was dressing to
call upon the leader of the boy choir, the servant announced a stranger.

A glad presentiment hurried her into the vestibule, and there stood Sir
Wolf Hartschwert in person, an aristocratic cavalier in his black Spanish
court costume.  He had become a man indeed, and his appearance did not
even lack the "sosiego," the calm dignity of the Castilian noble, which
gave Don Louis Quijada so distinguished an appearance.

True, his greeting was more eager and cordial than the genuine "sosiego"
--which means "repose"--would have permitted.  Even the manner in which
Wolf expressed his pleasure in the new melody of Barbara's voice, and
whispered an entreaty to send the children and Frau Lamperi--who came to
greet him--away for a short time, was anything but patient.

What had he in view?

Yet it must be something good.

When the light shone through her flower-decked window upon his face,
she thought she perceived this by the smile hovering around his lips.
She was not mistaken, nor did she wait long for the joyous tidings she
expected; his desire to tell her what, with the exception of the regent--
to whom his travelling companion, the Grand Prior Don Luis de Avila, was
perhaps just telling it as King Philip's envoy--no human being in the
Netherlands could yet know, was perhaps not much less than hers to hear
it.

Scarcely an hour before he had dismounted in Brussels with the nobleman,
and his first visit was to her, whom his news must render happy, even
happier than it did him and the woman in the house near the palace, whose
heart cherished the Emperor's son scarcely less warmly than his own
mother's.

On the long journey hither he had constantly anticipated the pleasure of
telling every incident in succession, just as it had happened; but
Barbara interrupted his first sentence with an inquiry how her John was
faring.

"He is so well that scarcely ever has any boy in the happiest time of his
life fared better," was the reply; and its purport, as well as the tone
in which it was uttered, entered Barbara's heart like angels' greetings
from the wide-open heavens.  But Wolf went on with his report, and when,
in spite of hundreds of questions, he at last completed the main
points, his listener staggered, as if overcome by wine, to the image of
the Virgin on the pilaster, and with uplifted hands threw herself on her
knees before it.

Wolf, unobserved, silently stole away.



CHAPTER XVII.

The following afternoon Wolf sought Barbara again, and now for the first
time succeeded in relating regularly and clearly what, constantly
interrupted by her impatience, he had told in a confused medley the day
before.  Pyramus, as usual, was away, and Barbara had taken care that no
one should interrupt them.

Deep silence pervaded the comfortable room, and Wolf had seated himself
in the arm-chair opposite to the young wife when, at her entreaty, he
began to tell the story again.  She had informed him of Dona Magdalena's
letter, and that it took her to the Emperor's residence in San Yuste.  At
that point her friend's fresh tidings began.

In the spring of the previous year Wolf had again been summoned from
Valladolid, where in the winter he directed the church singing as prinnen
of the religious music, to Cuacos, near San Yuste, where Quijada's wife
lived with her foster-son Geronimo.  From there he had often gone with
Dona Magdalena and the boy to the Emperor's residence, and frequently saw
him.

The account given in the letter written by Quijada's wife also applied to
the last months of the imperial recluse's existence.  Doubtless he
sometimes devoted himself to pious exercises and quiet meditation, but he
was usually busied with political affairs and the reading and dictating
of despatches.  Even at that time he received many visitors.  When
Geronimo came from Cuacos, he was permitted to go in and out of his
apartments freely, and the Emperor even seemed to prefer him to Don
Carlos, his grandson, King Philip's only son, who was destined to become
the head of his house; at least, Charles's conduct favoured this opinion.

On his return to Spain he had made his grandson's acquaintance in
Valladolid.

He was a boy who had well-formed, somewhat sickly features, and a fragile
body.  Of course the grandfather felt the deepest interest in him, and
the influence of the famous victor in so many battles upon the twelve-
year-old lad was a most beneficial one.

But Charles had scarcely left Valladolid when the passionate boy's
extremely dangerous tastes burst forth with renewed violence.  The
recluse student of human nature had probably perceived them, for when his
tutor, and especially the young evildoer's aunt, Juana, the Emperor
Charles's daughter, earnestly entreated him to let the grandson, whose
presence would disturb him very little, come to San Yuste, because his
influence over Don Carlos would be of priceless value, the grandfather
most positively refused the request.

On the other hand, the Emperor had not only tolerated his son Geronimo
near him, but rejoiced in his presence, for the quiet sufferer's eyes had
sparkled when he saw him.  Wolf himself had often witnessed this
delightful sight.

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
satisfaction flitted over his cold features, and we heard him exclaim to
Quijada, 'A horseman, and, if the saints so will, a knight well pleasing
to Heaven.'

"What more he said to the boy we learned later.  The words which by the
movement of his lips we saw that he added to the exclamation were,
'Unless our noble young friend prefers to consecrate himself in humility
to the service of the highest of all Masters.'

"He had pointed to the monastery as he spoke.  Geronimo did not delay his
reply, but, crossing himself, answered quickly:

"'I wish to be a faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, but only in
the world, fighting against his foes.'

"Philip nodded so eagerly that his stiff white ruff was pushed awry, and
then, with patronizing approval, added: 'So every nobleman ought to
think.  You, my young friend, saw a short time ago at the auto-da-fe in
Valladolid how a considerable number of Spanish gentlemen of the noblest
blood expiated at the stake the mortal sin of heresy.  A severe
punishment, and a terrible end!  Would you perhaps have preferred to see
his Majesty's mercy grant them their lives?'

"'On no account, my Lord Count,' cried Geronimo eagerly.  'There is no
mercy for the heretic.'

"His Majesty now summoned the two knights who attended him and, while one
held his horse, he dismounted.

"At a sign from Quijada, Geronimo now also sprang to the ground, and
gazed wonderingly at the stranger, whom, on account of his fair beard, he
supposed to be a Netherland noble; but Dona Magdalena could bear to
remain under the trees no longer, and I followed her to the edge of the
meadow.  The King advanced toward the boy, and stood before him with so
proud and dignified a bearing that one might have supposed his short
figure had grown two heads taller.

"Geronimo must have felt that some very distinguished personage
confronted him, and that something great awaited him, for he
involuntarily raised his hat again.  His wavy golden locks now fell
unconfined around his head, his cheeks glowed, and his large blue eyes
gazed questioningly and with deep perplexity into the stranger's face as
he said slowly, with significant emphasis: 'I am not the man whom you
suppose.  Who, boy, do you think that I might be?'

"'Geronimo turned pale; only one head could be lifted with so haughty a
majesty, and suddenly remembering the face which he had seen upon many a
coin, sure that he was right, he bent the knee with modest grace, saying,
'Our sovereign lord, his Majesty King Philip''

"'I am he,' was the reply.  'But to you, dear boy, I am still more.'

"'As he spoke he gave him his hand, and, when Geronimo rose, he said,
pointing to his breast: 'Your place is here, my boy; for the Emperor
Charles, who is now enjoying the bliss of heaven, was your father as well
as mine, and you, lad, are my brother.'

"Then passing his arm around his shoulders, he drew him gently toward
him, lightly imprinting a kiss upon his brow and cheeks; but Geronimo,
deeply moved, pressed his fresh red lips to his royal brother's right
hand.  Yet he had scarcely raised his head again when he started, and in
an agitated tone asked, 'And Don Luis--and my dear mother?'

"'Continue to love and honour them,' replied the King.--'Explain the
rest to him, Don Luis.  But keep what has happened here secret for the
present.  I will present him myself to our people as my brother.  He
received in holy baptism the name of John, which in Castilian is Juan.
Let him keep it.--Give me your hand again, Don Juan d'Austria.--[Don John
of Austria]--A proud name!  Do it honour.'

"He turned away as he spoke, mounted with the aid of one of his knights,
waved his hand graciously to Quijada and, while his horse was already
moving, called to him,  'My brother, Don Juan, will be addressed as your
Excellency.'

"He took no notice of Dona Magdalena, probably because she had appeared
here either without or against his orders, and thus offended one of the
forms of etiquette on which he placed so much value.  So his Majesty
neither saw nor heard how the son of an Emperor and the brother of a King
rushed up to his foster-mother, threw himself into her outstretched arms,
and exclaimed with warm affection, 'Mother!  my dear, dear mother!'"

Barbara had listened weeping to this description, but the last sentence
dried her tears and, like Frau Traut a short time ago, her friend
regretted that he had not exercised greater caution as he heard her,
still sobbing, but with an angry shrug of the shoulders, repeat the
exclamation which her son--ay, her son only--had poured forth from his
overflowing heart to another woman.

So Wolf did not tell her what he had witnessed in Villagarcia, when Don
Juan and Dona Magdalena had fallen into each other's arms, and that when
he asked about his real mother the lady answered that she was an
unfortunate woman who must remain away from him, but for whom it
would be his duty to provide generously.

Directly after, on the second day of October, Wolf added, the King had
presented her son to the court as his Excellency, his brother Don John of
Austria!

He, Wolf, had set off for Brussels with the grand prior that very day,
and, as his ship sailed from Spain before any other, he had succeeded in
being the first to bring this joyful news to the Netherlands and to her.

When Wolf left Barbara, it seemed as though what had hitherto appeared a
bewildering, happy dream had now for the first time been confirmed.  The
lofty goal she had striven to reach, and of which she had never lost
sight, was now gained; but a bitter drop of wormwood mingled with the
happiness that filled her grateful heart to overflowing.  Another woman
had forced herself into her place and robbed her of the boy's love, which
belonged to her and, after his father's death, to her alone.

Every thought of the much-praised Dona Magdalena stirred her blood.  How
cruel had been the anguish and fears which she had endured for this child
she alone could know; but the other enjoyed every pleasure that the
possession of so highly gifted a young creature could afford.  She could
say to herself that, of all sins, the one farthest from her nature was
envy; but what she felt toward this stealer of love fatally resembled
sharp, gnawing ill will.

Yet the bright sense of happiness which pervaded her whole being rendered
it easy for her to thrust the image of the unloved woman far into the
shade, and the next morning became a glorious festival for her; she used
it to pay a visit to the Dubois couple, and when she told them what she
had heard from Wolf, and saw Frau Traut sob aloud in her joy and Adrian
wipe tears of grateful emotion from his aged eyes, her own happiness was
doubled by the others' sympathy.

Barbara had anticipated Wolf, but while going home she met him on his way
to the Dubois house.  He joined her, and still had many questions to
answer.

During the next few days her friend helped her compose a letter to her
son; but he was constantly obliged to impose moderation upon the
passionate vehemence of her feelings.  She often yielded to his superior
prudence, only she would not fulfil his desire to address her boy as
"your Excellency."

When she read the letter, she thought she had found the right course.

Barbara first introduced herself to John as his real mother.  She had
loved and honoured his great father with all the strength of her soul,
and she might boast of having been clear to him also.  By the Emperor
Charles's command he, her beloved child, had been taken from her.  She
had submitted with a bleeding heart and, to place him in the path of
fortune, had inflicted the deepest wounds upon her own soul.  Now her
self-sacrifice was richly rewarded, and it would make her happier than
himself if she should learn that his own merit had led him to the height
of fame which she prayed that he might reach.

Then she congratulated him, and begged him not to forget her entirely
amid his grandeur.  She was only a plain woman, but she, too, belonged to
an ancient knightly race, and therefore he need not be ashamed of his
mother's blood.

Lastly, at Wolf's desire, she requested her son to thank the lady who so
lovingly filled her place to him.

Her friend was to give this letter himself to Don John of Austria, and he
voluntarily promised to lead the high-minded boy to the belief that his
own mother had also been worthy of an Emperor's love.

Lastly, Wolf promised to inform her of any important event in her son's
life or his own.  During the last hour of their meeting he admitted that
he was one of the few who felt satisfied with their lot.  True, he could
not say that he had no wishes; but up to this hour he had desired nothing
more constantly and longingly than to hear her sing once more, as in that
never-to-be-forgotten May in the Ratisbon home.  He might now hope,
sooner or later, to have this wish, too, fulfilled.  These were kind,
cheering words, and with a grateful ebullition of feeling she admitted
that, after his glad tidings, she, too, again felt capable of believing
in a happy future.

So the friends from childhood bade each other farewell.



CHAPTER XVIII.

During the following days Barbara's life path was illumined by the
reflection of the happiness bestowed by the wonderful change in the fate
of her child of sorrow, who now promised to become a giver of joy to her.

Doubtless during the ensuing years many dark shadows fell upon her
existence and her heart; but when everything around and within was
gloomy, she only needed to think of the son whom she had given the
Emperor, and the constantly increasing brilliancy of his career, to raise
her head with fresh confidence.  Yet the cloud obscuring her happiness
which she found it hardest to bear proceeded directly from him.

He had probably mentioned her to his royal brother, and revenues had
been granted her far exceeding poor Wawerl's dreams, and doubtless a
reflection of the admiration which her son earned fell upon her, and her
pride was greatly increased.  Moreover, she could again devote herself
without fear to her ardently beloved art, for even honest old Appenzelder
declared that he liked to listen to her, though her voice still lacked
much of the overpowering magic of former days.  She was in a position,
too, to gratify many a taste for whose satisfaction she had often
yearned, yet she could not attain a genuine and thorough new sense of
happiness.

The weeks which, a few years after her John's recognition, she spent with
self-sacrificing devotion beside her husband's couch of pain, which was
to become his deathbed, passed amid anxiety and grief, and when her
affectionate, careful nursing proved vain, and Pyramus died, deep and
sincere sorrow overpowered her.  True, he had not succeeded in winning
her to return his tender love; but after he had closed his eyes she
realized for the first time what a wealth of goodness and fidelity was
buried with him and lost to her forever.

Her youngest boy, soon after his father's death, was torn from her by
falling into a cistern, and she yielded herself to such passionate grief
for his loss that she thought she could never conquer it; but it was soon
soothed by the belief that, for the sake of this devout child, whose
training for a religious life had already commenced, Heaven had resigned
its claims upon John, and that the boy was dwelling in the immediate
presence of the Queen of Heaven.

Thus, ere she was aware of it, her burning anguish changed into a
cheerful remembrance.  Earlier still--more than two years after Wolf's
departure--tidings closely associated with the sorrow inflicted through
her John had saddened her.  The ship which was to bear the loyal
companion of her youth to Spain was wrecked just before the end of the
voyage, and Wolf went down with it.  Barbara learned the news only by
accident, and his death first made her realize with full distinctness
how dear he had been to her.

The letter which she had addressed to her son was lost with the man in
whom Fate had wrested from her the last friend who would have been able
and willing to show her John clearly and kindly a correct picture of his
mother's real character.

For two years she had hoped that Wolf would complete her letter in his
own person, and tell her son how her voice and her beauty had won his
father's heart.  Quijada had known it; but if he spoke of her to his wife
and foster-son, it was scarcely in her favour--he cared little for music
and singing.

So the loss of this letter seemed to her, with reason, a severe
misfortune.  What she now wrote to John could hardly exert much influence
upon him.  Yet she did write, this time with the aid of Hannibal.  But
the new letter, which began with thanks for the financial aid which the
son had conferred upon his mother through his royal brother, was
distasteful both to her pride and her maternal affection.  Half prosaic,
half far too effusive, it gave a distorted idea of her real feelings, and
she tore it up before giving it to the messenger.

Yet she did not cease to hope that, in some favourable hour, the heart of
the idol of her soul would urge him to approach his mother; but year
after year elapsed without bringing her even the slightest token of his
remembrance, and this omission was the bitter drop that spoiled the
happiness which, after the death of her youngest boy, was clouded by no
outward event.

When at last she addressed herself to John in a third letter, which this
time she dictated to Hannibal as her heart prompted, she received an
answer, it is true, though not from him, but from Dona Magdalena.

In kind words this lady urged her not to write to "her"--Dona
Magdalena's--son in future.  She had taught him to think of the woman
who bore him with fitting respect, but it would be impossible for him
to maintain the relation with her.  She must spare her the explanation
of the reasons which made this appear to be an obstacle to his career.
Don John would prove in the future, by his care for her prosperity and
comfort, that he did not forget her.  She had no right, it is true, to
counsel her; but when she transported herself into the soul of the woman
who had enjoyed the love of the Emperor Charles, and on whom Heaven had
bestowed a son like John of Austria, she felt sure that this woman would
act wisely and promote her real welfare if she preferred communion with
her Saviour, in the quiet of a cloister, to the bustle of life amid
surroundings which certainly were far too humble for her.

Barbara felt wounded to the inmost depths of her being by this letter.
Had the officious adviser, who had certainly despatched the reply without
her son's knowledge, been within her reach, she would have showed her how
little inclination she felt to be patronized by the person who, after
alienating the son's heart from his mother, even presumed to dictate to
her to rob herself of her last claim upon his regard.

True, in one respect she agreed with the writer of the letter.

Precisely because it appeared as if Heaven had accepted her sacrifice and
the grandeur for which she had made it seemed to be awaiting her son, she
ought to attempt nothing that might impede his climbing to the height,
and her open connection with him might easily have placed stones in his
path.  His elevation depended upon King Philip, whose boundless pride had
gazed at her from his chilling face.

So she resolved to make no more advances to her child until the day came
--and a voice within told her that come it must--when he himself longed
for his own mother.  Meanwhile she would be content with the joy of
watching his brilliant course from the distance.

The miracles which she had anticipated and prayed for in his behalf were
accomplished.  First, she heard that Count Ribadavia's splendid palace
would be prepared for her son, that the sons of noble families would be
assigned to attend him, and that a body-guard of Spaniards and Germans
and a train of his own were at his command.

Then she learned in what a remarkable manner Elizabeth of Valois, the
King's new wife, favoured the lad of thirteen.  At the taking of the oath
by which the Cortes recognised Don Carlos as the heir to the throne, John
had been summoned directly after the Infant as the first person entitled
to homage.

Next, she learned that he had entered the famous University of Alcala de
Henares.

And his classmates and friends?  They were no less important personages
than Don Carlos himself and Alessandro Farnese, John's nephew, the son of
that Ottavio at whose admission as Knight of the Golden Fleece Barbara
had made at Landshut the most difficult resolution of her life.

He was said to share everything with these distinguished companions, and
to be himself the handsomest and most attractive of the illustrious trio.
He was particularly inseparable from Alessandro, the son of the woman now
ruling as regent in Brussels, who was John's sister.

What reply would he have made to this illustrious scion of one of the
most ancient and noble royal races if a letter from her had reached him,
and the duke's son had asked, "Who is this Frau Barbara Blomberg?" or, as
she now signed herself, "Madame de Blomberg"?

The answer must have been: "My mother."

Oh, no, no, never!

It would have been cruel to expect this from him; never would she place
her beloved child, her pride, her joy, in so embarrassing a position.

Besides, though she could only watch him from a distance, thanks to his
generosity or his brother's, she could lead a pleasant life.  To sun
herself in his glory, too, was sufficiently cheering, and must satisfy
her.

He spent three years at the University of Aleala, and nothing but good
news of him reached her.  Then she received tidings which gave her
special joy, for one of the wishes she had formed in Landshut was
fulfilled.  He had been made a Knight of the Golden Fleece, and how
becoming the jewel on the red ribbon must be to the youth of one-and-
twenty!  How many of her acquaintances belonging to the partisans of the
King and Spain came to congratulate her upon it!  Because John had become
Spanish, and risen in Spain to the position which she desired for him,
she wished to become so, and studied the Spanish language with the zeal
and industry of a young girl.  She succeeded in gaining more and more
knowledge of it, and, finally, through intercourse with Spaniards, in
mastering it completely.

At that time the prospects for her party were certainly gloomy; the
heretical agitation and the boldness of the rebellious enthusiasts for
independence and liberty surpassed all bounds.

The King therefore sent the Duke of Alba to the Netherlands to
restore order, and, with the twenty thousand men he commanded, make the
insurgents feel the resistless power of offended majesty and the angered
Church.

Barbara and her friends greeted the stern duke as a noble champion of the
faith, who was resolved to do his utmost.  The new bishoprics, which by
Granvelle's advice had been established, the foreign soldiers, and the
Spanish Inquisition, which pursued the heretics with inexorable
harshness, had roused the populace to unprecedented turmoil, and induced
them to resist the leading nobles, who were indebted to the King for
great favours, to the intense wrath of these aristocrats and the
partisans of Spain.

Barbara, with all her party, had welcomed the new bishoprics as an
arrangement which promised many blessings, and the foreign troops seemed
to her necessary to maintain order in the rebellious Netherlands.  The
cruelty of the Inquisition was only intended to enforce respect for the
edicts which the Emperor Charles, in his infallible wisdom, had issued,
and the hatred which the nobles, especially, displayed against Granvelle,
Barbara's kind patron, the greatest statesman of his time and the most
loyal servant of his King, seemed to her worthy of the utmost
condemnation.

The scorn with which the rebels, after the compromise signed by the
highest nobles, had called themselves Geusen, or Beggars, and endangered
repose, would have been worthy of the severest punishment.  What induced
these people to risk money and life for privileges which a wise policy of
the government--this was the firm conviction of those who shared
Barbara's views--could not possibly grant, was incomprehensible to her,
and she watched the course of the rebels with increasing aversion.  Did
they suppose their well-fed magistrates and solemn States-General, who
never looked beyond their own city and country, would govern them better
than the far-sighted wisdom of a Granvelle or the vast intellect of a
Viglius, which comprised all the knowledge of the world?

What they called their liberties were privileges which a sovereign
bestowed.  Ought they to wonder if another monarch, whom they had deeply
angered, did not regard them as inviolable gifts of God?  The quiet
comfort of former days had been clouded, nay, destroyed, by these
patriots.  Peace could be restored only by the King's silencing them.
So she wished the Spaniards a speedy success, and detested the efforts of
independent minds; above all, of William of Orange, their only too clear-
sighted, cautious, devoted leader, also skilled in the arts of
dissimulation, in whom she recognised the most dangerous foe of
Spanish sovereignty and the unity of the Church.

When, by the Duke of Alba's orders, the Counts Egmont and Horn were
executed one June day in the market place of Brussels, opinions, even of
members of the Spanish party, were divided, especially as Count Egmont
was a Catholic, and had acted finally according to the views of the
government.

Barbara sincerely lamented his terrible end, for she had seen in him a
brilliant model for her John.  In hours of depression, the sudden fall of
this favourite of the people seemed like an evil omen.  But she would not
let these disquieting thoughts gain power over her, for she wished at
last to enjoy life and, as the mother of such a son, felt entitled to do
so.

She regarded this cruel deed of Alba as a false step at any rate, for,
though she kept so far aloof from the Netherland burghers and common
people, she perceived what deep indignation this measure aroused.

Meanwhile the Prince of Orange, the spirit and soul of this execrable
rebellion, had escaped the sentence of the court.

Nevertheless, she regarded Alba with great admiration, for he was a man
of ability, whom the Emperor Charles had held in high esteem.  Besides,
after her husband's death the haughty noble had been courteous enough to
assure her of his sympathy.

Moreover, a time was just approaching in which she withdrew too far from
this conflict to follow it with full attention, for her son's first deed
of heroism became known in Brussels.

The King had appointed John to the command of the fleet, and sent him
against the pirates upon the African coast.  He could now gather his
first laurels, and to do everything in her power for the success of his
arms, Barbara spent the greater portion of her time in church, praying
devoutly.  In September he was greeted in Madrid as a conqueror, but her
joy was not unclouded; for the Infant Don Carlos had yielded up his young
life in July as a prisoner, and she believed him to be her John's best
friend, and lamented his death because she thought that it would grieve
her hero son.

But this little cloud soon vanished, and how brilliantly the blue sky
arched above her the next year, when she learned that Don John of Austria
had received the honourable commission of crushing the rebellion of the
infidel Moriscoes in Andalusia!  Here her royal son first proved himself
a glorious military hero, and his deeds at the siege of Galera and before
Seron filled her maternal heart with inexpressible pride.  The words
which he shouted to his retreating men: "Do you call yourselves Spaniards
and not know what honour means?  What have you to fear when I am with
you?" echoed in her ears like the most beautiful melody which she had
ever sting or heard.

Yet a dark shadow fell on these radiant joys also; her John's friend and
foster-father, Don Luis Quijada, had been wounded in these battles, and
died from his injuries.  Barbara felt what deep pain this would cause her
distant son, and expressed her sympathy to him in a letter.

But the greatest happiness was still in store for her and for him.  On
the 7th of October, 1571, the young hero, now twenty-four years old, as
commander of the united fleets of Spain, Venice, and the Pope, gained the
greatest victory which any Castilian force had ever won over the troops
of the infidels.

Instead of the name received at his baptism, and the one which he owed to
his brother, that of Victor of Lepanto now adorned him.  Not one of all
the generals in the world received honours even distantly approaching
those lavished upon him.  And besides the leonine courage and talent for
command which he had displayed, his noble nature was praised with ardent
enthusiasm.  How he had showed it in the distribution of the booty to the
widow of the Turkish high admiral Ali Pasha!  This renowned Moslem naval
commander had fallen in the battle, and his two sons had been delivered
to Don John as prisoners.  When the unfortunate mother entreated him to
release the boys for a large ransom, he restored one to her love with the
companions for whose liberty he had interceded, with a letter containing
the words, "It does not beseem me to keep your presents, since my rank
and birth require me to give, not to receive."

These noble words were written by Barbara Blomberg's son, the boy to whom
she gave birth, and who had now become just what her lofty soul desired.

After the conquest of Cyprus, the Crescent had seriously threatened the
Cross in the Mediterranean, and it was Don John who had broken the power
of the Turks.

Alas, that her father could not have lived to witness this exploit of his
grandson!  What a happy man the victory of Lepanto, gained by his
"Wawerl's" son, would have made him!  How the fearless old champion of
the faith would have rejoiced in this grandchild, his deeds, and nature!

And what honours were bestowed upon her John!

King Philip wrote to him, "Next to God, gratitude for what has been
accomplished is due to you."  A statue was erected to him in Messina.
The Pope had used the words of Scripture, "There was a man sent by God,
and his name was John."  Now, yes, now she was more than rewarded for the
sacrifice of Landshut; now the splendour and grandeur for which she had
longed and prayed was far, far exceeded.

This time it was gratitude, fervent gratitude, which detained her in
church.  The child of her love, her suffering, her pride, was now happy,
must be happy.

When, two years later, Don John captured Tunis, the exploit could no
longer increase his renown.

At this time also happened many things which filled the heart of a woman
so closely connected with royalty sometimes with joy, sometimes with
anxiety.

In Paris, the night of St. Bartholomew, a year after her son had
chastised the Moslems at Lepanto, dealt the French heretics a deep,
almost incurable wound, and in the Netherlands there were not gallows
enough to hang the misguided fanatics.

Yet this rebellious nation did not cease to cause the King unspeakable
difficulties and orthodox Christians sorrow.  On the sea the "Beggars"
conquered his Majesty's war ships; Haarlem, it is true, had been forced
by the Spanish troops to surrender, but what terrible sacrifices the
siege had cost where women had taken part in the defence with the courage
of men!

And, in spite of everything, Alba's harshness had been futile.

Then Philip recalled him and put in his place the gentle Don Luis de
Requesens, who had been governor in Milan.  He would willingly have made
peace with the people bleeding from a thousand wounds, but how could he
concede the toleration of the heretical faith and the withdrawal of the
troops on which he relied?  And how did the rebels show their gratitude
to him for his kindness and good will?

The Beggars destroyed his fleet, and, though the brother of William of
Orange had been defeated upon the Mooker-Heide, this by no means
disheartened the enraged nation, resolved upon extremes, and their
silent but wise and tireless leader.

In Leyden the obstinacy of the foes of the King and the Church showed
itself in a way to which even Barbara and her party could not deny a
certain degree of admiration.  True, the nature of the country aided the
rebels like an ally.  Mortal warriors could not contend against wind and
storm.  But he who from without directed the defence here, who had issued
the order to break through the dikes, and then with shameful effrontery
had founded in the scarcely rescued city a university which was to
nurture the spirit of resistance in the minds of the young men, was again
the Prince of Orange; and who else than he, his shrewdness and firmness,
robbed Requesens of gratitude for his mildness and the success of his
honest labours?

But how much easier was the part of the leader of the enemy, who in
Brussels had escaped the fate of Egmont, than the King's kindly disposed
governor!  When Barbara chanced to hear the men of the people talking
with each other, and they spoke of "Father William," they meant the
Prince of Orange; and with what abuse, both verbally and in handbills,
King Philip and the Spanish Government were loaded!

To Barbara, as well as to the members of her party, William of Orange,
whom she often heard called the "Antichrist" and "rebel chief," was an
object of hatred.  Now he frustrated the kind Requesens's attempt at
mediation, and it was also his fault that two provinces had publicly
revolted from the Holy Church.  The Protestant worship of God was now
exercised as freely there as in Ratisbon.  Like William of Orange, most
of the citizens professed the doctrine of Calvin, but there was no lack
of Lutherans, and the clergyman whose sermons attracted the largest
congregations was Erasmus Eckhart, Barbara's old acquaintance, Dr.
Hiltner's foster-son, who during the Emperor Charles's reign had come to
the Netherlands as an army chaplain, and, amid great perils, was said to
have lured thousands from the Catholic Church.  Deeply as her sentiments
rebelled, here, too, Barbara had become his preserver; for when the
Bloody Council had sentenced him to the gallows, she had succeeded, with
great difficulty, through her manifold relations to the heads of the
Spanish party, in obtaining his pardon.  A grateful letter from Frau
Sabina Hiltner had abundantly repaid her for these exertions.

The boldness with which William of Orange, who was himself the most
dangerous heretic and rebel, protested that he was willing to grant every
one full religious liberty, had no desire to injure the Catholic Church
in any way, and was even ready to acknowledge the supremacy of the King,
could not fail to enrage every pious Catholic and faithful subject of
King Philip.

To spoil a Requesens's game was no difficult task for the man who,
though by no means as harmless as the dove, was certainly as wise as the
serpent; but that the Duke of Alba, the tried, inflexible commander, had
been obliged to yield and retire vanquished before the little, merry,
industrious, thoroughly peaceful nation which intrusted itself to the
leadership of William of Orange, had been too much for her and, when it
happened, seemed like a miracle.

What spirits were aiding the Prince of Orange to resist the King and the
power of the Church so successfully?  He was in league with hell, her old
confessor said, and there were rumours that his Majesty was trying to
have the abominable mischief-maker secretly put out of the world.  But
this would have been unworthy of a King, and Barbara would not believe
it.

In the northern provinces the Spanish power was only a shadow, but in the
southern ones also hatred of the Spaniards was already bursting into
flames, and Requesens was too weak to extinguish them.

The King and Barbara's political friends perceived that Alba's pitiless,
murderous severity had injured the cause of the crown and the Church far
more than it had benefited them.  Personally, he had treated her on the
whole kindly, but he had inflicted two offences which were hard to
conquer.  In the first place, he urged her to leave Brussels and settle
in Mons; and, secondly, he had refused to receive her Conrad, who had
grown up into a steady, good-looking, but in no respect remarkable young
man, in one of his regiments, with the prospect of promotion to the rank
of officer.

In both cases she had not remained quiet and, at the second audience
which the duke gave her, her hot blood, though it had grown so much
cooler, played her a trick, and she became involved in a vehement
argument with him.  In the course of this he had been compelled to be
frank, and she now knew that Alba had persuaded her to change her
residence at the King's desire, and why it was done.

She afterward learned from acquaintances that the duke had said one was
apt to be the loser in a dispute with her; yet she had yielded, though
solely and entirely to benefit her John, but she could not help
confessing to herself that her residence in the capital could not be
agreeable to him.  The highest Spanish officials and military commanders
lived there, as well as the ambassadors of foreign powers, and it was not
desirable to remind them of the maternal descent of the general who now
belonged to the King's family.

The case was somewhat similar, as Alba himself had confessed to her, with
regard to her son Conrad's promotion to the rank of an officer; for if he
attained that position he might, as the brother of Don John of Austria,
make pretensions which threatened to place the hero of Lepanto in a
false, nay, perhaps unpleasant position.  This, too, she did not desire.
But in removing from Brussels she had possibly rendered Don John a
greater service than she admitted to herself, for, since her son's
brilliant successes had made her happy and her external circumstances
had permitted it, she had emerged from the miserable seclusion of former
years.

Her dress, too, she now suited to the position which she arrogated to
herself.  But in doing so she had become a personage who could scarcely
be overlooked, and she rarely failed to be present on the very occasions
which brought together the most aristocratic Spanish society in Brussels.

So, after a fresh dispute with Alba, in which the victor on many a
battlefield was forced to yield, she had obtained his consent to retire
to Ghent instead of Mons.

True, the duke would have preferred to induce her to go to Spain, and
tried to persuade her to do so by the assurance that the King himself
desired to receive her there.

But she had been warned.

Through Hannibal Melas and other members of her own party she had learned
that Philip intended, if she came to Spain, to remove her from the eyes
of the world by placing her in a convent, and never had she felt less
inclination to take the veil.

Her departure from Brussels had done Alba and his functionaries a
service, for she had constantly forced herself into the government
building to obtain news of her son.

The great and opulent city of Ghent, the birthplace of the Emperor
Charles, of which he had once said to Francis I, the King of France,
that Paris would go into his glove (Gant), had been chosen by Barbara for
several reasons.  The principal one was that she would find there several
old friends of former days, one of whom, her singing-master Feys, had
promised to accept her voice and enable her to serve her art again with
full pleasure.

The other was Hannibal Melas, who before Granvelle's fall had been
transferred there as one of the higher officials of the government.

She also entered into relations with other heads of the Spanish party,
and thus found in Ghent what she sought.  The pension allowed her enabled
her to hire a pretty house, and to furnish it with a certain degree of
splendour.  A companion, for whom she selected an elderly unmarried lady
who belonged to an impoverished noble family, accompanied her in her
walks; a major-domo governed the four men-servants and the maids of the
household; Frau Lamperi retained her position as lady's maid; the steward
and cook attended to the kitchen and the cellar; and two pages, with a
pretty one-horse carriage, lent an air of elegance to her style of
living.

For the religious service, which was directed by her own chaplain, she
had had a chapel fitted up in the house, according to the Ratisbon
fashion.  The poor were never turned from her door without alms, and
where she encountered great want she often relieved it with a generosity
far beyond her means.  Under the instruction of Maestro Feys, she eagerly
devoted herself to new exercises in singing.  Doubtless she realized that
time and the long period of hoarseness had seriously injured her voice,
but even now she could compare with the best singers in the city.

Thus Barbara saw her youthful dreams of fortune realized--nay, surpassed
--and in the consciousness of liberty which she now enjoyed, elevated by
the success gained by the person she loved best, she again followed her
lover's motto.  With the impelling "More, farther" before her eyes, she
took care that she did not lack the admiration for which she had never
ceased to long, and to which, in better days, she had possessed so well-
founded a claim.

Now a lavish and gracious hospitality, as well as her relationship to the
greatest and most popular hero of his time, must give her what she had
formerly obtained through her art; for she rarely sang in large
companies, and when she did so, no matter how loudly her hearers
expressed their delight, she could not regain the old confident security
that she was justly entitled to it.  But she could believe all the more
firmly that the acknowledgments of pleasure which she reaped from her
little evening parties were sincere.  They even gained a certain degree
of celebrity, for the kitchen in her house was admirably managed, and
whatever came from it found approval even in the home of the finest
culinary achievements.  But it was especially the freedom--though not the
slightest indecorum was permitted--with which people met at "Madame de
Blomberg's," as she now styled herself, that lent her house so great an
attraction, and finally added the more aristocratic members of her party
to the number of her guests.

The very different elements assembled in her home were united by
Barbara's unaffected vivacity and frank, enthusiastic temperament,
receptive to the veriest trifle.  These evening entertainments rarely
lacked music; but she had learned to retire into the background, and when
there were talented artists among her guests she gave them the
precedence.  The way in which she understood how to discover and bring
out the best qualities of every visitor rendered her a very agreeable
hostess.

Maestro Feys made her acquainted with his professional friends in Ghent,
and her opinion of music was soon highly valued among them.  Where women
choirs were being trained, she was asked to join them, and often took a
part which seemed to the others too difficult.  Thus Barbara was heard
and known in larger circles, and she had the pleasure of hearing her
admirable training and excellent method of delivery praised by the
director of the choir of the Cathedral of Saint Bavon, one of the
greatest musicians in the Netherlands.  But it afforded her special
gratification when a choir of Catholic women chose her for their leader.
She devoted a large portion of her time and strength to it, and felt
honoured and elevated by its progress and admirable performances.

Although nearly fifty, she was still a very fine-looking woman.  The few
silver threads which now mingled in her hair were skilfully concealed by
Lamperi's art, and few ladies in Ghent were more tastefully and richly
apparelled.

Among the guests who thronged to her house there was no lack of elderly
gentlemen who would gladly have married the vivacious, unusual woman, who
was so nearly connected with the royal family, and lived in such
luxurious style.

Never had she had more suitors than at this time; but she had learned the
meaning of a loveless marriage, and her heart still belonged to the one
man to whom, notwithstanding the deep wounds he had inflicted, she owed
a brief but peerlessly sublime happiness.

She could not even have bestowed upon her husband the alms of a sincere
interest, for, in spite of the increasing number of social and musical
engagements which filled her life, one thought alone occupied the depths
of her soul--her John, his renown, grandeur, and honour.

Her son Conrad had no cause to complain of lack of affection from his
mother, but the victor of Lepanto was to her the all-animating sun, the
former only a friendly little star.  Besides, she rarely saw him now, as
he was studying in Lowen.

As she had modelled her housekeeping after that of the Castilian nobles,
and her guests almost exclusively belonged to the royal party, she also
sought Spanish houses or those of the city magistrates who were partisans
of the King.

News of her son would be most fully supplied there, and many an officer
whom she met had served under her John, and willingly told the mother
what he admired and had learned from him.  The young Duke of
Ferdinandina, a Spanish colonel, who had studied with John in Alcala,
and then fought by his side at the conquest of Tunis, stirred her heart
most deeply by his enthusiastic admiration for the comrade who was his
superior in every respect.

All the pictures of Don John, the young officer who had shared his tent
declared, gave a very faint idea of his wonderful beauty and bewitching
chivalrous grace.  Not only women's hearts rushed to him; his frank,
lovable nature also won men.  As a rider in the tournament, in games of
ball and quarter staff, he had no peer; for his magnificently formed body
was like steel, and he himself had seen Don John share in playing racket
for six hours in succession with the utmost eagerness, and then show no
more fatigue than a fish does in water.  But he was also sure of success
where proof of intellect must be given.  He did not understand where Don
John had found time to learn to speak French, German, and Italian.
Moreover, he was thoroughly the great noble.  On the pilgrimage which he
made to Loreto he had distributed more than ten thousand ducats among the
poor.  The piety and charity which distinguished him--he had told him so
himself--owed to the lady who reared him, the widow of the never-to-be-
forgotten Don Luis Quijada.  His eye filled with tears when he spoke of
her.  But even she, Barbara, could not love him more tenderly or
faithfully than this admirable woman.  Up to the day she insisted upon
supplying his body linen.  The finest linen spun and woven in Villagarcia
was used for the purpose, and the sewing was done by her own skilful
hands.  Nothing of importance befel him that he did not discuss with Tia
in long letters.--["Tia," the Spanish word for aunt.]

Barbara had listened to the young Spaniard with joyous emotion until, at
the last communication, her heart contracted again.

How much that by right was hers this worm snatched, as it were, from her
lips!  What delight it would also have given her to provide her son's
linen, and how much finer was the Flanders material than that made at
Villagarcia! how much more artistically wrought were Mechlin and Brusse
laces than those of Valladolid or Barcelona!

And the letters!

How many Dona Magdalena probably possessed!  But she had not yet beheld a
single pen stroke from her son's hand.

Yet she thanked the enthusiastic young panegyrist for his news, and the
emotion of displeasure which for a short time destroyed her joy melted
like mist before the sun when he closed with the assurance that, no
matter how much he thought and pondered, he could find neither spot nor
stain the brilliantly pure character of her son, irradiated by nobility
of nature, the favour of fortune, and renown.

The already vivid sense of happiness which filled her was strongly
enhanced by this description of the personality of her child and, in a
period which saw so many anxious and troubled faces in the Netherlands,
a sunny radiance brightened hers.

She felt rejuvenated, and the acquaintances and friends who declared that
no one would suppose her to be much older than her famous son, whose age
was known to the whole world, were not guilty of undue exaggeration.

Heaven, she thought, would pour its favour upon her too lavishly if the
report that Don John was to be appointed Governor of the Netherlands
should be verified.

It was not in Barbara's nature to shut such a wealth of joy into her own
heart, and never had her house been more frequently opened to guests,
never had her little entertainments been more brilliant, never since the
time of her recovery had the music of her voice been more beautiful than
in the days which followed the sudden death of the governor, Requesens.

Meanwhile she had scarcely noticed how high the longing for liberty was
surging in the Netherland nation, and with how fierce a glow hatred of
the Spanish tyrants was consuming the hearts of the people.

But even Barbara was roused from her ecstasy of happiness when she heard
of the atrocities that threatened the provinces.

What did it avail that the King meanwhile left the government to the
Council of State in Brussels?  Even furious foes of Spain desired to see
a power which could be relied upon at the head of the community, even
though it were a tool of the abhorred King.  The danger was so terrible
that it could not fail to alarm and summon to the common defence every
individual, no matter to what party he might belong; for the unpaid
Spanish regiments, with unbridled violence, rioting and seeking booty,
capable of every crime, every shameful deed, obedient only to their own
savage impulses, were already entering Brabant.

Now many a Spanish partisan also hoped for deliverance from the Prince of
Orange, but he took advantage of the favour of circumstances in behalf of
the great cause of liberty.  The "Spanish" in Ghent heard with terror
that all the heads of the royalist party who were at the helm of
government had been captured, that province after province had revolted,
and would no longer bow to the despot.  Philip of Croy, Duke of Aerschot,
had been appointed military governor of Brabant.

The inhabitants of Ghent now saw the States-General meet within the walls
of their city, in order, as every other support failed, to appeal for aid
to foreign powers, and entreat "Father William," who could do everything,
to guard the country from the rebellious soldiery.  Even those who
favoured Spain now relied upon his never-failing shrewdness and energy
until the King sent the right man.

Then the rumour that King Philip would send his brother Don John of
Austria, that, as his regent, he might reconcile the contending parties,
strengthened into authentic news, and not only the Spanish partisans
hailed it with joyous hope, for the reputation of military ability, as
well as of a noble nature, preceded the victor of Lepanto.

Barbara received these tidings through the distinguished City Councillor
Rassingham, who invited her for the first time to a meeting of the
Spanish party in his magnificent home--an honour bestowed, in addition to
herself, upon only a few women belonging to the highest social circles,
and which she probably owed to the summons to Don John.  The members of
the States-General who favoured the King were also to be present at this
assembly, and a banquet would follow the political discussions.  This
invitation promised to lend fresh distinction to her social position, and
open a sphere of activity which suited her taste.

The King's cause was hers, and to be permitted to work for it gained a
special charm by her son's appointment to be governor of the country,
which filled her with mingled anxiety and joy.  If he were regent, every
service which she rendered the party would benefit him personally.

Yet it was not perfectly easy for her to accept Rassingham's invitation.

Nothing could be more desirable and flattering than to obtain admittance
to this house, from which all foreign and doubtful elements were excluded
with special care, but she would be obliged to remain there until late at
night, and this was difficult to reconcile with certain duties she had
undertaken.

Her old music teacher, Feys, to whom she was so much indebted, had been
attacked by slow fever, and she had received him in her house five days
ago, and provided with loving devotion for his nursing.  The bachelor of
seventy had been so ill cared for in his lonely, uncomfortable home that
her kind heart had urged her to take charge of him.

She had left him only a few hours since he had been under her roof, and
if the banquet at the Rassinghams, after the deliberations, lasted until
a very late hour, she would, for the sake of her invalid guest, great as
was the sacrifice, attend only the former.

Yet she was pleased at the thought of sharing this festal assembly, and
she, her companion, and Lamperi all went into ecstasies over the dress
she intended to wear, which had just arrived from Brussels.

Maestro Feys passed a restless night, and Barbara watched beside his
couch for hours.  In the morning she allowed herself a little sleep, but
she was obliged at noon to dress for the assembly, which was to begin
before sunset.

She had just sat down to have her hair arranged, which occupied a long
time, when one of the pages handed her a letter brought by a mounted
courier.

She opened it curiously, and while reading it her cheeks paled and
flushed as in the days of her youth.  Then it dropped into her lap, and
for a moment she remained motionless, with closed eyes, as though
stupefied.

Then, rising quickly, she again read the violet-scented missive, written
on the finest parchment.

"Your son," ran the brief contents--"your son, who has so long been
separated from his mother, at last desires to look into her eyes.  If the
woman who gave him birth wishes to make him feel new and deep gratitude,
let her hasten at once to Luxemburg, where he has been for several hours
in the deepest privacy.  The weal and woe of his life are at stake."

The letter, written in the German language, was signed "John of
Austria."

Panting for breath, Barbara gazed a long time into vacancy.  Then,
suddenly drawing herself up proudly, she exclaimed to Lamperi: "I'll
dress my hair myself.  Yesterday Herr De la Porta offered me his
travelling carriage.  The major-domo must go to him at once and say that
Madame de Blomberg asks the loan of the vehicle.  Let the page Diego
order post and courier horses at the same time.  The carriage must be
ready in an hour."

"But, Madame," cried the maid, raising her hands in alarm and admonition,
"the Rassinghams are expecting you.  The honour!  Every one who is well
disposed in the States-General will be there.  Who knows what the party
has in store for you?  And then the banquet!  What may there not be to
hear!"

"No matter," replied Barbara.  "The chaplain--I'll speak to him-must send
the refusal.  No summons from Heaven could be more powerful than the call
that takes me away.  Bestir yourself!  There is not an instant to lose."

Frau Lamperi retired with drooping head.  But when she had executed her
mistress's orders and returned, Barbara laid her hand upon her shoulder,
whispering: "You can keep silence.  I am going to Luxemburg.  He who
calls me is one whom you saw enter the world, the hero of Lepanto.  He
wants his mother.  At last! at last!  And I--"

Here tears stifled her voice, and obeying the desire to pour out to
another the overflowing gratitude and love which had taken possession of
her soul, she threw herself upon the gray-haired attendant's breast, and
amid her weeping exclaimed: "I shall see him with these eyes, I can clasp
his hand, I shall hear his voice--that voice--His first cry--A thousand
times, waking and sleeping, I have fancied I heard it again.  Do you
remember how they took him from me, Lamperi?

"To think that I survived it!  But now--now  If that voice lured me to the
deepest abyss and called me away from paradise, I would go!"

The maid's old eyes also overflowed, and when Barbara read her son's
letter aloud, she cried: "Of course there can be no delay, even if,
instead of the Rassinghams, King Philip himself should send for you.  And
I--may I go with you?  Oh, Madame, you do not know what a sweet little
angel he was from his very birth!  We were not allowed to show him to
you.  And it was wise, for, had you seen him, it would have broken your
poor mother heart to give him up."

She sobbed aloud as she spoke.  Barbara permitted her to accompany her,
though she had intended to take her companion, and would have preferred
to travel with the woman of noble birth.

Besides, she could have confided the care of her sick guest to Lamperi
more confidently than to the other.  But the faithful old soul's wish to
see the boy whose entrance into the world she had been permitted to greet
was too justifiable for her to be able to refuse it.

How much Barbara had to do before her departure!  Most of the time was
consumed by the suffering maestro and the arrangements which she had to
make for him.  She did not leave his bedside until the arrival of the
sister who was to assist her companion in nursing her old friend until
her return.  She certainly would not be absent long; the important things
John had to say might probably require great haste, while, on the
contrary, whatever needed time for execution could be comfortably
despatched during his stay in the Netherlands.  So she assured Feys, who
regarded her as his good angel and felt her departure painfully, that she
would soon be with him again, and then gave the order to ask Hannibal
Melas, in her name, to pay frequent visits to the sick maestro.  It was
very hard for her to leave him and neglect the duties which she had
undertaken, but in the presence of the summons addressed to her every
other consideration must be silent.

When Barbara returned to her own apartments Lamperi was still busied with
the packing.

Several dresses--first of all the new Brussels gown and its belongings,
even the pomegranate blossoms which the garden city of Ghent had supplied
as something rare in November for her mistress's adornment--were placed
carefully in the largest trunk, while Barbara, overpowered by
inexpressible restlessness, paced the room with hasty steps from side to
side.

Only when one or another article was taken from a casket or box did she
pause in her walk.  Among the things selected was the pearl necklace
which Charles had given her, and the only note her royal lover had ever
written, which ran, "This evening, quia amore langueo."  This she laid
with her own hand among the laces and pomegranate blossoms, for this cry
of longing might teach her son what she had once been to his father.
When John had seen her and felt how clear he was to her, he must become
aware that he had another mother besides the Spanish lady whom he called
"Tia," and who made his underclothing; then he could no more forget her
than that other woman.

Lastly, she summoned the major-domo and told him what he must do during
her absence, which she thought would not exceed a week at the utmost.
The guests invited for Wednesday must be notified; the women's choir must
be requested to excuse her non-appearance; Sir Jasper Gordon, her most
faithful admirer, an elderly Englishman, must learn that she had gone
away; but, above all, writing tablet in hand, she directed him how to
provide for her poor, what assistance every individual should receive,
or the sums of money and wood which were to be sent to other houses to
provide for the coming winter.  She also placed money at the majordomo's
disposal for any very needy persons who might apply for help while she
was out of reach.

Before the November sun had set she entered the La Porta travelling
carriage.  The chaplain, whom she referred to the major-domo for any
matters connected with the poor, gave his blessing to the departing
traveller, whose cheerful vivacity, after so many severe trials, he
admired, and whose "golden heart," as he expressed it, had made her dear
to him.  The servants gathered at the door of the house, bowing silently,
and her "Farewell, till we meet again!" fell from her lips with joyous
confidence.

While on the way she reflected, for the first time, what John could
desire of her for the "weal and woe of his life."  It was impossible to
guess, yet whatever it might be she would not fail him.

But what could it be'

Neither during the long night journey nor by the light of day did she
find a satisfactory answer.  True, she had not thought solely of her
son's entreaty.  Her whole former life passed before her.

How much she had sinned and erred!  But all that she had done for the man
to whom the posthorses were swiftly bearing her seemed to her free from
reproach and blameless.  Every act and feeling which he had received from
her had been the best of which she was capable.

Not a day, scarcely an hour, had she forgotten him; for his sake she had
endured great anguish willingly, and, in spite of his mute reserve--she
could say so to herself--without any bitter feeling.  How she had
suffered in parting from her child she alone knew.  Fate had raised her
son to the summit of earthly grandeur and saved him from every clanger.
Providence had adorned him with its choicest gifts.  When she thought of
the last account of him from the Duke of Ferdinandina, it seemed to her
as if his life had hitherto resembled a triumphal procession, a walk
through blooming gardens.

What could he mean by the "woe" after the "weal"?

John was to her the embodied fulfilment of the most ardent prayers.  The
blessings she had besought for him, and for which she had placed her own
heart on the rack, had become his-glory and splendour, fame and honour.

She had not been able to give them to him, and undoubtedly he owed much
to his own powers and to the favour of his royal brother, but Barbara was
firmly convinced that her prayers had raised him to his present grandeur.

What more could now be given to him?  Everything the human heart desires
was already his.  His happiness was complete, and during recent years
this, too, had cheered her heart and restored her lost capacity for the
enjoyment of life.  She had been carried to the very verge of
recklessness whenever bitter grief had oppressed her heart.

Her greatest sorrow had been that she was not permitted to see and
embrace him, and the knowledge that another filled the place in his heart
which belonged to her; but lesser troubles had also gnawed at her soul.

It had been especially hard to bear that, as the object of the greatest
Emperor's love and the mother of his son, she had so long felt that she
was reluctantly tolerated, and not really recognised in the circles which
should have been hers also.  Moreover, the consciousness of exercising an
art over which she had once attained a mastery, yet never being able to
shake off the painful doubt whether the applause that greeted her
performance was genuine, spoiled many a pleasant hour.

Still, all these things had probably been only the tribute which she was
compelled to pay for the proud joy of being the mother of such a son.

Now she at last felt safe from these malicious little attacks.  She had
gained a good social position; she was not only valued as a singer, but
always sought wherever the women of Ghent were earnestly pursuing music
and singing.  The invitation to the Rassinghams flung wide the doors
which had formerly been closed against her, and she might be sure of not
being deemed the least important among the ladies of her party to whose
hearts the cause of King and Church was dear.

When she returned to Ghent, even if Don John had not been appointed
governor, she might even have ventured to make her house the rendezvous
of the heads of the royalist party.

But now that her son entered the Netherlands as the leader, the
representative of the sovereign, to reign in Philip's name, everything
she could wish was attained, and his father's "More, farther," had lost
all meaning for her.

She could meet her happy son as a happy mother; she said this to herself
with a long breath.  These thoughts had animated her restless half
slumber during the nocturnal drive, and she still dwelt upon them all the
following day.

Toward evening they reached Luxemburg.  At the gate, where every carriage
was stopped, the guards asked her name.

At the reply the inspector of taxes bowed profoundly, and signed to the
Spanish officer behind him.

He was waiting for her, by the command of the captain-general, who longed
to see her, and with the utmost courtesy undertook the office of guide.

Then the carriage rolled on again, and turned into the magnificent park
of a palace, which belonged to the royal governor, Prince Peter Ernst von
Mansfeld.

A gentleman dressed in black, whose bright eyes revealed an active mind,
while the expression of his well-formed features inspired confidence, Don
John's private secretary, Escovedo, of whose shrewdness and fidelity
Barbara had often heard, ushered her into the apartments assigned to her.

In two hours, he said, the captain-general would be happy to receive her.
He first wished her to rest completely after the fatiguing journey.

Barbara dismissed, without making use of their services, the pages whom
he placed at her disposal.  The more than luxurious meal which was served
soon afterward she scarcely touched; the impetuous throbbing of her heart
choked her breathing so that she could scarcely speak to Lamperi.

With eager zeal the maid tried to induce her to put on the fresh and
extremely tasteful Brussels gala robe.  The candlesticks, with the dozens
of candles, the elegant silver dishes, the whole manner of the reception,
led her to make the suggestion.  But Barbara had scarcely noticed these
magnificent things.

Her every thought and feeling centred upon the son whom she was now
actually to see with her own eyes, whose hand she would touch, whose
voice she would hear.

The splendid costume did not suit such a meeting after a long separation,
so solemn a festal hour of the heart.

A heavy black silk which she had brought was more appropriate for this
occasion.  Only she allowed the pomegranate blossoms, which had remained
perfectly fresh, to be fastened on her breast, that her dress might not
look like mourning.  While Lamperi was putting the last touches to her
toilet, a priest came for her, as Escovedo had arranged, exactly two
hours after her arrival.  This was Father Dorante, Don John's confessor,
an elderly man with a face in which earnest piety was so happily mingled
with kindly cheerfulness that Barbara rejoiced to know that such a
guardian of souls was at her son's side.

While he was descending the stairs with her, Barbara noticed one of the
searching glances he secretly cast at her, and wondered what this man's
pure, keen eyes had probably discovered.

The spacious apartment into which she was now ushered was hung with
costly bright-hued Oriental rugs.

"Gifts from the widow of the Turkish lord high admiral," the priest
whispered, pointing to the superb textures, and Barbara nodded.  She knew
how he had obtained them, but the passionate agitation of her soul
deprived her of the power to inform the monk of this knowledge, of which
probably she would usually have boasted to a friend of her son so worthy
of all respect.

The folding doors of the adjoining room were open.  Surely John was
there, and how gladly she would have rushed toward it!  But the confessor
asked her to sit down, as the captain-general still had several orders to
give.  Then he entered the other room.

Barbara, panting for breath, looked after him and, as she glanced through
the open door, it seemed as though her heart stood still.

Yonder aristocratic gentleman, in the full prime of youthful beauty, must
be her son.

The man from whom she had so long been parted looked like the apparition
of the Count Egmont, at whom she had once gazed full of admiration, with
the wish that her John might resemble him; only she thought her John,
with his open brow and floating, waving golden locks, far handsomer than
the unfortunate victor of St. Quentin and Gravelines.

How noble and yet how easy was the bearing of the dignitary, who was
still less than thirty years old!

His figure was only slightly above middle height.  What gave it the air
of such royal stateliness?

Certainly it was not merely his dress, which consisted wholly of velvet,
silk, and satin, with the gold of the Fleece that hung below the lace
ruff at his throat.  True, the colours of the costume were becoming.
Dark violet and golden yellow alternated in the slashed doublet and wide
breeches.  His father had worn similar apparel when he confessed his love
for her.

Should Barbara regard this as a good omen or an evil one?

He was not yet aware of her arrival for, completely absorbed in the
subject of their conversation, he was talking with his private secretary
Escovedo.

How animated his beautiful features became!  how leonine he looked when
he indignantly shook his head with its wealth of golden hair!

Oh, yes!  Women's hearts must indeed fly to him, and Barbara now
understood what she had heard of the beautiful Diana of Sorrento,
and the no less beautiful Alaria Mendoza, and their love for him.

Thus she had imagined him.  Yet no!  His outer man, in its proud
patrician beauty and winning charm, even surpassed her loftiest
expectation.  One thing alone surprised her: the seriousness of his
youthful features and the lines upon his lofty brow.

Why did her favourite of fortune bear these traces of former anxieties?

Now the priest interrupted him.  Had he told her John of her entrance?

Yet that was scarcely possible, for his face revealed no trace of filial
pleasure.  On the contrary.  He rallied his courage, as if he were about
to step into a cold river, straightened himself, and pressed his right
hand, clinched into a fist, upon his hip.  Perhaps--the saints be
praised!--Father Dorante might have reminded him of something else, for
he turned to Escovedo again and gave him an order.

Then he waved his hand, flung back his handsome head as King Philip was
in the habit of doing, but in a far nobler, freer manner, hastily passed
his hand through his wavy hair, as if to strengthen his courage, and then
walked slowly, with haughty, almost arrogant dignity, to the door.

On the threshold he paused and looked at her.  How bright were the large
blue eyes which now gazed at Barbara with an expression far more
searching than joyous.

Yet even while, with one hand resting on the back of the chair and the
other pressed upon her panting bosom, she was striving to find the right
words, Don John's glance brightened.

She was not mistaken.  He had dreaded this meeting, and now with joyful
surprise was asking himself whether this could be the woman who had been
described to him as a showy, extremely whimsical, perverse person, who
used her son's renown to obtain access to aristocratic houses and as many
pleasures as possible.

She must at any rate have been remarkably beautiful, and how wonderfully
her delicately chiselled features had retained a charm which is usually
peculiar to youth! how well the now dull gold of her thick tresses
harmonized with the faint flush on the almost unwrinkled face! and how
dignified was the bearing of her figure, still slender, in spite of her
matronly increase in flesh!

No wonder that she had once fired the heart of his distinguished father!
Now--that sunny glance could not deceive Barbara--now her appearance had
ceased to be unpleasant to him; nay, perhaps even pleased him.  And now
she could bear it no longer; from the inmost depths of her heart rose the
cry: "John, my child!  My dear, dear son!"

Again, with the speed of lightning, the question darted through Don
John's mind: "Is this the woman whose voice, I was told, offended the
ear?  Spiteful, base slander!"  How fervent, how gentle, how full of
tender affection her cry had sounded!  Not even from the lips of Doha
Magdalena, his much-loved "Tia," had his own name ever echoed so
musically as from those of yonder woman, whom he had just shrunk from
meeting as though it were an inevitable misfortune.

Shame, regret, love, seethed hotly within him.  It was long since he had
felt emotion like that which mastered him when her tearful eyes again met
his, and now, in the enthusiastic soul of this favourite of fortune,
whose lofty flight neither glory, nor fame, nor disappointment could
paralyze, in the bosom of this good, high-minded young human being
stirred the consciousness that a great new happiness was in store for
him, and from his lips rang the cry for which Barbara had waited so long
with vain yearning, "Mother!" and again "Mother!"

It seemed to her as if the bright sun had suddenly burst in its full,
dazzling radiance from midnight darkness.  Three swift steps took her to
Don John and, no longer able to control herself, she seized one of the
hands which he had extended to her to kiss it; but his chivalrous nature
forbade him to permit this, and at the same moment he had obeyed the
impulse to kiss the face upturned to his with such loving tenderness.

On the way she had pondered long over the question how she should address
him; but now she knew that she need not call him "Your Excellency," far
less "Your Highness."  To impose so severe a constraint upon her poor,
poor heart was no longer required and, though interrupted by low sobbing,
she again cried with all the fervour of the most tender maternal love:
"My son!  My dear, dear child!"

Then suddenly the words she had vainly sought came voluntarily, and in
fluent speech she told him how her heart had so long consumed itself with
yearning for him, and that she had now left everything behind to obey his
summons; and he thanked her with eager warmth by raising the hand which
clasped his to his lips.

What he desired of her would be hard for her to do, but now that he knew
her it was far harder to ask.  Yet it must be done, because upon this
might perhaps depend the great hopes which he fixed upon the future, and
which would atone for what had so cruelly embittered and poisoned the
past.

Barbara gazed more intently into the noble face whose blooming youthful
beauty had just delighted her, and in doing so perceived far more
distinctly the sorrowful, anxious expression which she had formerly
thought she noticed.  In pained surprise she inquired what cause he, whom
Heaven had hitherto loaded with its most precious gifts, had to complain
of Fate, as whose spoiled favourite she, like all the rest of the world,
had believed him happy.

He laughed softly, but with such keen bitterness that it pierced her to
the heart, and the bright flush with which joy had suffused her cheeks
suddenly vanished.

Her favourite of Fortune indignantly rejected the belief that he had
reason to look back upon his past life with gratitude and pleasure.

It was incomprehensible and, carried away by the violent agitation which
seized upon her, she described with fiery vivacity how the conviction
that he had gained everything which her hard sacrifice and her prayers
had sought, had beautified her life and helped her to bear even the most
painful trials with quiet submission, nay, with joyous gratitude.

Stimulated by the power of the extraordinary things which she had
experienced, she described in a ceaseless flow of vivid words how she had
torn her child from her soul in order to place it in the path which was
to lead to fame, splendour, and honour--in short, to everything that
adorns and lends value to life.

"And why, in the name of all the saints," she concluded, "why must I now
tell myself that I endured this great suffering in vain, and that what
filled my heart with joy was only an idle delusion?  Yet I watched your
steps as the hunter follows the trail of the game.  I saw how every fresh
onset led you to greater splendour, higher renown, and more exalted
grandeur."

His cheeks, too, had now flushed.  What life was still pulsing in the
veins of this woman, already past her youth! with what impressive power
she understood how to describe what moved her!  Yet how mistaken was the
view to which maternal love and the desire of her heart had led her
artist nature!  She had seen only the light, not the shadow, the
darkness, the gloom, which had clouded his course of fame.

To secure splendour and grandeur for him, she had yielded to the most
cruel demand, and what had been the result of this sacrifice?  What had
she gained by it?

How had the happiness in which she fancied she saw him revelling been
constituted?

The power of the newly awakened experiences bore him away also, and he
described no less vividly what he had suffered.

Yes, indeed!  He had not lacked great successes, far-reaching renown,
high honours, and some degree of glory.  But what a tale he--not yet
thirty--now related!  He, the son of an Emperor, the brother of a
powerful King, who was adorned by as many crowns as there were fingers on
his hand!

He had been King Philip's servant and useful commander in chief, nothing
more.

And now he described the sovereign's cold nature, unfeeling calculation,
and offensive suspicion.  He, Don John, the not all unworthy son of the
great Emperor Charles, was not born to obey all his life, and allow
himself to be turned to account, worn out, and abused for the benefit of
another.  He, too, might lay claim to the right of governing a kingdom of
his own as its ruler, benefactor, and Mehrer.

After Lepanto, the crowns of the Morea and Albania had been offered to
him.  Then, after he had conquered Tunis for his brother Philip, he had
wished to reign over that country as its king.  Had it been ceded to him,
large provinces would have been taken from the infidels.  This, it might
have been supposed, was sufficient reason for Philip to intrust it to his
government.  But although the Holy Father in Rome and other rulers had
recognised the justice of these wishes, his royal brother could not be
persuaded to grant his just demands, and destroyed these hopes with cruel
coldness.  He had not even been induced to recognise him as Infant, as a
lawful member of his family.

With trivial pretexts, and promises which he never intended to fulfil,
the hypocritical, selfish, niggardly man had repulsed, delayed, and put
him off.

So his life had been spoiled by the most cruel disappointments, by a
succession of the bitterest wrongs.  Since Lepanto, no pure happiness had
bloomed again for him.  He was a miserable, disappointed, ill-treated
man, who could never regain his former happiness until he obtained, on
his own account, what he himself called greatness, honour, glory, and
power.  The gifts, no, the more than well-earned payments for which he
was indebted to the King, were only a bodiless shadow, a caricature of
these lofty gifts of Heaven.

His mother, alarmed, cried in terror, "What an ambition!"

But Don John, with increasing excitement, exclaimed: "Yes, mother!
I am so ambitious that, if I knew there was another man who more ardently
desired renown and honour, I would throw myself out of this window.  'Who
does not struggle ward, falls back!' has long been my motto, and I am
struggling upward and know the goal."

A startling suspicion seized Barbara, and with anxious caution she
whispered:

"Do I see aright?  You have learned from Flanders and Brabant how
bitterly King Philip is hated there, and you now hope to contend with him
for the crown of the Netherlands?  The victory you, my hero, my general,
you would surely attain--" But here she was interrupted.

Don John cut short her words with the cry, "Mother!" and then went on
indignantly: "If any one else had given me this advice, I would deprive
him of any inclination to repeat it.  God granted Don Philip the
sovereignty.  My oath, my honour, forbid me to rise against him.  He has
lost all claim to my love, my gratitude, but he is sure of the fidelity
of his ill-treated brother.  Besides," he added proudly, "my wishes mount
higher."

Barbara had listened to her son with the utmost eagerness; now, taking a
locket from the breast of his doublet, he whispered:

"Do you know whom this lovely picture represents?  No?  Well, these are
the features of the fairest and most unfortunate of women.  Mary Stuart,
the hapless Queen of Scotland, the devout, patient sufferer for our holy
faith, looks at you from this frame.  She does not refuse me her hand.
The Holy Father in Rome and the Guises in France approve the bold
enterprise; but I shall take the army under my command by sea to England.
I am sure of victory in this conflict.  With the most beautiful of women,
I shall gain the crown which I need and which will best suit me."

"John!" Barbara exclaimed, carried away by the daring of this proposal,
and her eyes sparkled with enthusiasm.  "This desire is worthy of you
and your great father.  If I can aid you in its realization----"

"You can," Don John eagerly interrupted; "for the first step is to gain
the consent of the States-General to despatch the army, which must now
be sent back to Spain, thither by sea.  When the troops are once on the
way they will steer to England, instead of southward.  But even to embark
these forces I shall need the consent of the representatives of the
country.  Therefore, difficult as it is for me, the words must be
uttered: Your residence in the provinces will prevent my obtaining it.
Spare me the mention of my reasons; but the circumstance that you always
opened your house to the Spanish party must fill the King's enemies with
distrust of you.  Besides, it is scarcely credible; but you must believe
Escovedo, to whom I owe this information.  How petty people in the
provinces can be about such matters!  An edict was recently issued which
commands the removal of every official who can not prove that the union
of the parents who gave him life was consecrated by the Holy Church.
Alas, mother, that I should be compelled to wound you at our first
meeting!  But if your love is as great as your every glance tells me,
as you have just confessed with such touching warmth----"

"And as I shall confess," she cried impetuously, "so long as a single
breath stirs this bosom; for I love you, John--love you with all the
strength of this poor, sorely tortured soul.  But, child, child!  What
you ask of me--It comes so unexpectedly--you have no suspicion how deeply
it pierces into the very heart of my life.  I must leave the country
which has become my home, the city where prejudice and enmity greeted me,
and where I have now obtained the position that befits me.  A venerable
sick man is in my house, longing for the return of the nurse who left him
for your sake.  My poor--The rest that I must cast aside and abandon is
more than I can enumerate now.  Nor could I, this request bewilders me so
--Give rue a little time to collect my thoughts, for you see--But if you
look at me so, John, I can--Yet no!--It certainly is not necessary that I
should say yes or no at once.  I must first learn whether you--whether
the sacrifice I made for your glory and grandeur--it was in Landshut,
you know--whether it was really so useless, whether you are in reality as
unhappy as you, the fame-crowned, beloved, and lauded child of an
Emperor, would have me believe, or whether--Forgive me, John, but before
I make this terribly difficult decision I must--yes, I must see clearly.
As surely as your hero soul harbours no falsity, it would be unworthy of
you to show your mother a distorted image of your inner life; you must
confess whether you--"

"Whether," Don John, with a smile of sorrowful bitterness, here
interrupted the deeply troubled woman--"whether, in order to soften your
heart, I am not painting in blacker colours than reality requires.  Oh,
how little you know me yet!  I would rather this tongue should wither
than that I should unchivalrously permit it to deviate one straw's
breadth from the truth in order to attain a selfish purpose.  No, mother!
My description of the grief which often overpowers this soul was far too
lukewarm.  If your first sacrifice was intended to make me a happy man,
its effect was no stronger than the light of the candle which is burned
amid the radiance of the noonday sun.  Perhaps I should have been happier
had I been allowed to grow up in modest circumstances under your tender
care; for then my course would have been long and steep, and I should
have been forced to climb many steps to reach the point where barriers
are fixed to ambition.  But as it is, I began at the place which many of
the best men regard as the highest goal.  The great man whom you loved
understood life better than you.  Had I obeyed his wish, and in the
stillness of the cloister striven for blessings which do not belong to
this world, this miserable existence would have seemed less unendurable
to me, then doubtless a much wider space would have separated me from
despair; for I am so unhappy, mother, that I envy the poor peasant who
in the sweat of his brow gathers the harvest which his sterile fields
produce; for years I have been as wretched as the captive lion in its
cage, the lover whose bride is torn from him on the marriage day.
Imagine the wish as a woman, and beside her a magician who, by virtue of
the power which he possesses, cries, 'The fulfilment of every desire you
strive to attain shall be forever withheld,' and you will have an idea of
the devastated existence of the pitiable man who, if it were not sinful,
would curse those who gave him the life in which he has long seen nothing
save the horrible, jeering spectre of disappointment."

"Stop!" moaned Barbara sorrowfully, pressing her hand upon her brow as
if frantic.  "So even my hardest sacrifice was futile, and what rendered
life valuable to my foolish heart was mere delusion and bewildering
deception.  What I beheld raising you to the stars, as though with
eagles' wings, was a clogging weight; what seemed to me at a distance the
bright sunshine irradiating your path, was a Will-o'-the-wisp luring to
destruction.  What I thought white, was black, the radiant daylight was
dusk and the darkness of night.  Oh, if it were really granted me  Yet,
child, you certainly do not know what you are asking.  So, before it
comes to the final decision, let me put this one more question: Do you
believe, really and firmly, that if the confidence of the States-General
permits you to take your army by sea, and you lead it in England and
succeed in winning the crown and hand of this--whether she is guilty or
not--beautiful, devout, and, whatever errors she has committed, desirable
Queen, that the troubles which it is so hard for your ambitious soul to
bear will then vanish?  When you have won the woman for whom you yearn,
the throne, and the sceptre, will your sore heart be healed and happiness
make its joyous entry, and also remain in your soul, that is so hard to
satisfy?  For--I see and feel it--it is carried away by the 'More,
farther,' of your father.  Can you, my John, have you really the firm
conviction that, if this lofty desire is fulfilled, you will be content
and believe that you have found the summit and the limit of your feverish
struggle upward and forward?"

"Yes, and again yes," cried Don John in a tone of immovably firm belief,
while his large eyes beamed upon his mother with an expression of full
and genuine trust.  "The vainglory which your first sacrifice brought me
was the source of this life full of bitter disappointment.  The hand of
Mary Stuart, the lovely martyr, the woman so lavishly endowed with every
mental and physical gift, for whom my heart has yearned ever since I saw
her picture, and the crown of England, the symbol of genuine majesty,
will transform disappointment into the fulfilment which Heaven has
hitherto denied me.  If these both fall to the lot of the son, the
mother's sacrifice will not have been in vain; no, it will bring him
golden fruit, for the success of this enterprise will bestow upon your
John, besides the fleeting radiance, the sun whence the light emanates.
It will raise him to the height to which he aspires, and for which Fate
destined him."

Here he hesitated, for the agitated face of Escovedo, who entered with a
despatch in his hand, showed that something unexpected and startling had
occurred.

The secretary, Don John's friend and counsellor, did not allow himself to
be intimidated by the angry gesture with which his master waved him back,
but handed him the paper, exclaiming in a tone ringing with the horror
the news had inspired: "Antwerp attacked by his Majesty's rebellious
troops, those in Alst, headed by their Eletto--burned to ashes,
plundered, destroyed!"

With a hasty snatch Don John seized the parchment announcing the
misfortune, and read it, panting for breath.

The Council of Antwerp had addressed it to King Philip, and sent a copy
to him, the newly appointed governor.

When he let the hand which held the paper fall, he was deadly pale,
and gazed around him as though seeking assistance.

Then his eyes met those of his mother who, seized with anxious fears,
was watching his every movement, and he handed her the fatal sheet,
with the half-sorrowful, half-disdainful exclamation:

"And I am to lead this abused people back to love the man who sent them
the Duke of Alba, that he might heal their wounds with his pitiless iron
hand, and who let the poor, brave fellows in his service starve and go in
rags until, in fierce despair, they seized for themselves what their
employer denied."

The sheet Barbara's son had handed to her trembled in her hand as she
read half aloud: "It is the greatest commercial city in Europe, the
fosterer of art, knowledge, manufactures, and the Catholic faith, which
never wavered in obedience to the King, hurled in a single day from the
height of honour and happiness to a gulf of misery, and become a den of
robbers and murderers, who know nothing of God and the King.  Old men,
women, and children have been slaughtered by them without distinction,
the goods belonging partly to foreign owners have been stolen and burned,
and the magnificent Town Hall, with all its treasures of documents and
patents, has become a prey of the flames."

"Horrible! horrible!" cried Barbara, and Don John repeated her words,
and added in a hollow tone: "And this happened yesterday, on the
selfsame Sunday which saw me ride into the Netherlands!  These are the
bonfires which redden the heavens on my arrival!"

"William of Orange will call them incendiary flames crying aloud for
vengeance," fell in half-stifled accents from Barbara's lips.

"And this time with some reason," replied Don John in a tone of assent,
"for the men who kindled them are mercenaries of the King, formerly our
own troops, who have been driven to desperation."  Then he continued
passionately: "And Philip sends me--me, a man of the sword--to these
provinces.  What is the warrior to do here?  This blade is too good to
deal the death-blow to the body which is already bleeding from a thousand
wounds.  If, nevertheless, I did it, I should destroy the most productive
fountain of the King's wealth.  It is not a man who can fight and command
an army and a navy that is needed here, but a woman who understands how
to mediate and to heal.  The King sent me to this country not to gather
fresh laurels, but to be shipwrecked, and with bleeding brow return
defeated.  Oh, I see through him!  But I also know--Heaven be praised!--
what I owe to myself, my father's son.  If the States-General permit me
to take the troops away by sea, I will gain the woman and the crown that
are beckoning to me in another country, and his Majesty may send a more
pliant regent of either sex to the provinces to continue the battle with
William of Orange, who fights with weapons which my straightforward
nature and firm sword ill understand how to meet.  This sheet places the
decision before me.  Real, genuine glory, the fairest of wives, and a
proud crown--or defeat and ruin."

The close of this outpouring of the young hero's heart sounded like a
manly, irrevocable resolution; but his mother laid her hand upon his arm,
and said quietly, "I will go."

A sunny glance of gratitude from her son rested upon her; she, however,
only bent her head slightly and went on as calmly as if she had found the
strength to be content, but with warm affection:

"My first sacrifice was vain.  May the second not only aid you to gain
the splendour of a crown, but, above all, instil into your soul the
satisfaction with that longed-for highest happiness which your mother's
heart desires for you!"

Then Don John obeyed the mighty impulse of his soul to pour forth to his
mother the gratitude and love which her unselfish retirement wrung from
him.  His arms clasped her closely and tenderly, and never had he
rewarded even his foster-mother in Villagarcia for her love and
faithfulness with a more affectionate kiss.

"My gratitude will die only with myself," he cried as he released her.
"Blessed be the day on which I found my own mother!  It led you, dear
lady, not only to your John, but to his love."

Escovedo, moved to the depths of his heart, had listened in surprise to
this outburst of feeling from the famous son of the Emperor, whom he
loved, to whom he had devoted his fine intellect and wealth of
experience, and for whom it was appointed that he should die.

Thus ended Don John's meeting with his mother, which he had dreaded as an
inevitable evil.  Alba, who described her as an extremely obstinate
woman, had advised him to use a stratagem to induce her to yield to his
wish and leave the Netherlands.  He was to represent that his sister, the
Duchess Margaret, who was holding her court at Aquila, in the Abruzzi
Mountains, invited her to visit her in order to make her acquaintance.
She would not resist this summons, for she had often made her way to the
government building, and took special pleasure in the society of the
aristocratic Spaniards.  When she was once on board a ship, she would be
obliged to submit to being carried to Spain, whence her return could
easily be prevented.

To set such a snare for this woman had been impossible for Don John.
Truth and love had sufficed to induce her to fulfil his wish.

Senor Escovedo had witnessed much that was noble during this hour, but
especially a mother whom in the future he could remember with gratitude
and joy; for Don John's confidant knew that of all he saw and heard here
not a word was false and feigned, yet he knew better than any other man
his master's heart and every look.  Barbara, too, believed her son no
less confidently, and as the shout of victory reaches combatants lying on
the ground, wounded by lances and arrows, the cry of a secret voice
within her soul, sorely as she was stricken, great as was the sacrifice
and suffering which she had imposed upon herself, called upon her to
rejoice in the highest of all gifts--the love of her child, to whom
hitherto she had been only a dreaded stranger.

She could not yet obtain a clear insight into the result of the promise
which she had given her son; it seemed as though a veil was drawn over
her active mind.

Yet again and again she asked herself what power could have induced her
to grant so quickly and unconditionally to the son a demand which in her
youth she would have refused, with defiant opposition, even to his
ardently loved father.  But she took as little trouble to find the
answer as she felt regret for her compliance.

The world to which she returned after this hour had gained a new aspect.
She had not understood the real nature of the former one.  The
exclamation which her son's confession had elicited she still believed
after long reflection.  What she had deemed great, was small; what had
seemed to her light and brilliant, was dark.  What she had considered
worthy of the greatest sacrifice was petty and trivial; no fountain of
joy, but a fierce torrent of new wishes constantly surpassing one
another.  With their boundless extent they had of necessity remained
unfulfilled.  Thus woe on woe, and at the same time the painfully
paralyzing feeling of the hostility of Fate had been evoked from its
surges and, instead of happiness, they had brought sorrow and suffering.

Pride in such a son had been the delight of her life; henceforth, she
felt it, she must seek her happiness, her joys, elsewhere, and she knew
also where, and realized that she was receiving higher for smaller
things.  Instead of sharing his renown, she had gained the right to
share his misfortune and his griefs.

The more and the more eagerly she pondered in silence, the more surely
she perceived that earthly glory and magnificence, which she had thought
the greatest blessings, were only a series of sunbeams, swiftly following
one another, which would be clouded by one shadow after the other until
darkness and oblivion ingulfed them.

Like every outward splendour, fame dazzles the eyes of men.  It would
dim her son's--she knew it now--whether he looked backward to the past or
forward to the future.  The greatness he had gained he overlooked; what
awaited him in the future, having lost his clearness of vision and
impartiality, he was disposed to overvalue.

From her eyes, on the contrary, this knowledge removed veil after veil.

It was a vain delusion which led him to the belief that the Scottish
and English crowns possessed the power to render him happy, and end his
struggle for new and higher honours; for royalty also belonged to the
glory whose worthlessness she now perceived as plainly as the reflection
of her own face in the surface of the mirror.

Barbara saw her son for only a few more fleeting hours; the "Spanish
fury" which destroyed the flower of Antwerp doubled his business cares,
forbade any delay, and imperiously claimed his whole time and strength.

The mother watched his honest labours sorrowfully.  She knew that the
chivalrous champion of the faith, the sincere enthusiast, to whom nothing
was higher than honour and the stainless purity of his name, must succumb
to his most eminent foe, the Prince of Orange, with his tireless,
inventive, thoroughly statesmanlike intellect, which preserved the power
of seeing in the darkness, and did not shrink from deceit where it would
promote the great cause which she did not understand, but to which he
consecrated every drop of his heart's blood, every penny of his property.

Her son came to the country as a Spaniard and the brother of the hated
Philip on the day of the most abominable crime history ever narrated,
and which his followers committed; and who stood higher in the hearts
of the people of the Netherlands than their beloved helper in need,
their "Father William"?

She saw her son go to this hopeless conflict like a garlanded victim to
the altar.  She had nothing to aid him save her prayers and the execution
of the heavy sacrifice which she had resolved to make.  The collapse of
her belief, wishes, and expectations produced a transformation of her
whole nature.  A world of ideas had crumbled into fragments before and
within her, and from their ruins a new one suddenly sprang up in her
strong soul.  Where yesterday her warlike temper had defied or resisted,
to-day she retired with lowered weapons.  To contend against her son, and
force her new knowledge upon him, would have seemed to her foolish and
fruitless, for she desired and expected nothing more from him than that
he should keep for her the love she had won.

So she yielded to his desire without resistance.  However his destiny
might turn, he should be obliged to admit that his mother had omitted
nothing in her power to open to him the path which, according to his own
opinion, might lead to the height for which he longed.

She made use of his affectionate readiness to serve her only so far as to
beg him to take charge of her son Conrad.  He did so willingly, and
endeavoured to induce the young man to enter the priesthood.  He wished
to spare him the disappointments which had marred his own life, but
Conrad preferred the army.

His mother did not forget him, and did everything in her power for him.
He remained on terms of affectionate union with her, but he did not see
her again until the gold of her hair was changed to silver, and he
himself had risen to the rank of colonel.

This was to happen in Spain.  Barbara had gone there by way of Genoa
under the escort of Count Faconvergue, commander of the German
mercenaries, and while doing so had been treated with the respect and
distinguished consideration which was her due as the mother of Don John
of Austria, who had now acknowledged her.

Like every other wish of her son, Barbara had fulfilled with quiet
indulgence his desire that she would not again enter the Netherlands
and Ghent.

From Luxemburg she directed what should be done with her house, her
servants, and the recipients of her alms.  Hannibal Melas relieved her
of the care of Maestro Feys, which she had undertaken, and under his
faithful nursing the old musician was granted many more years of life.
The Maltese also distributed among her poor the large sums which the sale
of Barbara's property produced.

In Spain she was received with the utmost consideration by the Marquis de
la Mota, Dona Magdalena de Ulloa's brother, and later by the lady
herself.  But at first there was no real bond of affection between these
women, and this was Barbara's fault, for Dona Magdalena's experience was
the same as Don John's.  She perceived with shame how greatly she had
undervalued Don John's mother--nay, how much she had wronged her--but her
sedulous efforts to make amends for the error produced an effect upon
Barbara different from her expectations; for the great lady's manner
seemed like a confession of guilt, and kept alive the memory of the
anguish of soul which Dona Magdalena had so often inflicted upon her.

The early death of the young hero whom both loved so tenderly first drew
them together.  Barbara had witnessed with very different feelings from
Dona Magdalena and her brother how the former regarded every false step
of Don John, and especially that of his expedition to England, as a heavy
misfortune, and as such bewailed it.  Dona Magdalena had been firmly
convinced that the spell of fame which surrounded the victor of Lepanto,
and the irresistible lovableness characteristic of his whole nature,
would finally win the hearts of the Netherlanders, and even induce the
Prince of Orange, whose friendship Don John himself hoped to gain, to
join hands with him in the attempt to work for the welfare of his
country.

Barbara knew that this expectation deceived him.

Toleration and liberty were the blessings which the Prince of Orange
desired to win for his people, and both were hateful to her son, reared
at the Spanish court, as she herself saw in them an encroachment upon the
just demands of the Church and the claims of royalty.  Fire and water
could harmonize more easily than these two men, and Barbara foresaw which
of them in this conflict would be the extinguishing flood.

She perceived how waterfall after waterfall was quenching the flames
which burned in Don John's honest soul for the supposed welfare of the
nation intrusted to him.  He was reaping hatred, scorn, and humiliation
wherever he had hoped to win love and gratitude in the Netherlands.  His
royal brother left him in the lurch where he was entitled to depend upon
his assistance.  But when Philip let the mask fall and showed openly how
deeply he distrusted the glorious son of his dead father, and to what a
degree his ill will had risen--when he committed the cruel crime of
having Escovedo, the devoted, loyal friend and counsellor of the victor
of Lepanto, assassinated in Madrid, where he had come to labour in his
master's cause--the most ambitious and sensitive of hearts received the
deathblow which was to put an end to his famous career and his young
life.

Scarcely two years after Barbara's meeting with Don John, the Emperor
Charles's hero son died.  Even in the Netherlands he had remained to the
last victor on the battlefield.  Alessandro Farnese, his dearest friend,
his companion in youth, in study, and in war, had valiantly supported him
with his good sword; but his faithful friendship had been unable to heal
the sufferings which wore out Don John's strong body and brave soul when,
to the severest political failures, was added the bloody treachery of his
royal brother.

The death of this son doubtless first taught Barbara with what cruel
anguish a mother's heart can be visited; but her John had not really died
to her.  Accustomed to love him from a distance, she continued to live in
and with him, and in her thoughts and dreams he remained her own.

At first, without leaving the lay condition, she had joined the Dominican
Sisters in the Convent of Santa Maria la Real at Cebrian; but even the
slight constraint which life behind stone walls imposed upon her still
seemed unendurable, so she retired to the little city of Colindres, in
the district of Loredo.  There stood the deserted house of Escovedo, the
murdered friend and counsellor of her John and, as everything under its
roof reminded her of the beloved dead, it seemed the most fitting spot in
which to pass the remnant of her days.  In it she led an independent but
quiet, secluded life.  She spent only a few maravedis for her own wants,
while she used the thousands of ducats which, after her son's death, King
Philip awarded her as an annual income, to make life easier for the poor
and the sick whom she affectionately sought out.

With every tear she dried she believed that she was showing the best
honour to her son's memory.

She was denied the pleasure of placing a flower upon his grave, for King
Philip had done his dead brother the honour which he withheld from him
during life and, though only as a corpse, received him among the members
of his illustrious race.  His coffin had been entombed in the cold family
vault of the Escurial, where no sunbeam enters.

But Barbara needed no place associated with his person in order to
remember him; she always felt near him, and memories were the vital air
which nourished her soul.  Music remained the best ornament of her
solitary existence, and never did the forms of the son and the father
come nearer to her than when she sang the songs--or in after years played
them on the harp and lute--to which her imperial lover had liked to
listen.

The memory of her John's father now taught her to change the "More,
farther," of his motto into the maxim, "Learn to be content," the memory
of the son, that every sacrifice which we make for the happiness of
another is futile if, besides splendour and glory, fame and honour, it
does not also gain the spiritual blessings whose possession first lends
those gifts genuine value.  These much-envied favours of Fortune had
little to do with the indestructible monument which she erected in her
heart to her son and her lover.  What built it and lent it eternal
endurance were the modest gifts of the heart.

She now knew the names of the blessings which might have guided her boy
to a loftier happiness and, full of the love which even death could not
assail and lessen, mourned by many, Barbara Blomberg, at an advanced age,
closed her eyes upon the world.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

The greatness he had gained he overlooked
Who does not struggle ward, falls back





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