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Title: Barbara Blomberg — Volume 01
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 01" ***

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BARBARA BLOMBERG

By Georg Ebers

Volume 1.


Translated from the German by Mary J. Safford



CHAPTER I.

The sun sometimes shone brightly upon the little round panes of the
ancient building, the Golden Cross, on the northern side of the square,
which the people of Ratisbon call "on the moor"; sometimes it was veiled
by gray clouds.  A party of nobles, ecclesiastics, and knights belonging
to the Emperor's train were just coming out.  The spring breeze banged
behind them the door of the little entrance for pedestrians close beside
the large main gateway.

The courtiers and ladies who were in the chapel at the right of the
corridor started.  "April weather!" growled the corporal of the Imperial
Halberdiers to the comrade with whom he was keeping; guard at the foot of
the staircase leading to the apartments of Charles V, in the second story
of the huge old house.

"St. Peter's day," replied the other, a Catalonian.  "At my home fresh
strawberries are now growing in the open air and roses are blooming in
the gardens.  Take it all in all, it's better to be dead in Barcelona
than alive in this accursed land of heretics!"

"Come, come," replied the other, "life is life!  'A live dog is better
than a dead king,' says a proverb in my country."

"And it is right, too," replied the Spaniard.  "But ever since we came
here our master's face looks as if imperial life didn't taste exactly
like mulled wine, either."

The Netherlander lowered his halberd and answered his companion's words
first with a heavy sigh, and then with the remark: "Bad weather upstairs
as well as down--the very worst!  I've been in the service thirteen
years, but I never saw him like this, not even after the defeat in
Algiers.  That means we must keep a good lookout.  Present halberds!
Some one is coming down."

Both quickly assumed a more erect attitude, but the Spaniard whispered to
his comrade: "It isn't he.  His step hasn't sounded like that since the
gout--"

"Quijada!" whispered the Netherlander, and both he and the man from
Barcelona presented halberds with true military bearing; but the staves
of their descending weapons soon struck the flags of the pavement again,
for a woman's voice had detained the man whom the soldiers intended to
salute, and in his place two slender lads rushed down the steps.

The yellow velvet garments, with ash-gray facings, and cap of the same
material in the same colours, were very becoming to these youths--the
Emperor's pages--and, though the first two were sons of German and
Italian counts, and the third who followed them was a Holland baron, the
sentinels took little more notice of them than of Queen Mary's pointers
following swiftly at their heels.

"Of those up there," observed the halberdier from Haarlem under his
breath, "a man would most willingly stiffen his back for Quijada."

"Except their Majesties, of course," added the Catalonian with dignity.

"Of course," the other repeated.  "Besides, the Emperor Charles himself
bestows every honour on Don Luis.  I was in Algiers at the time.  A
hundred more like him would have made matters different, I can tell you.
If it beseemed an insignificant fellow like me, I should like to ask why
his Majesty took him from the army and placed him among the courtiers."

Here he stopped abruptly, for, in spite of the gaily dressed nobles and
ladies, priests, knights, and attendants who were passing up and down the
corridor, he had heard footsteps on the stairs which must be those of men
in high position.  He was not mistaken--one was no less a personage than
the younger Granvelle, the Bishop of Arras, who, notwithstanding his
nine-and-twenty years, was already the favourite counsellor of Charles V;
the other, a man considerably his senior, Dr. Mathys, of Bruges, the
Emperor's physician.

The bishop was followed by a secretary clad in black, with a portfolio
under his arm; the leech, by an elderly assistant.

The fine features of the Bishop of Arras, which revealed a nature capable
of laughter and enjoyment, now looked as grave as his companion's--a fact
which by no means escaped the notice of the courtiers in the corridor,
but no one ventured to approach them with a question, although--it had
begun to rain again--they stopped before going out of doors and stood
talking together in low tones.

Many would gladly have caught part of their conversation, but no one
dared to move nearer, and the Southerners and Germans among them did not
understand the Flemish which they spoke.

Not until after the leech had raised his tall, pointed hat and the
statesman had pressed his prelate's cap closer upon his short, wavy dark
hair and drawn his sable-trimmed velvet cloak around him did several
courtiers hasten forward with officious zeal to open the little side door
for them.

Something must be going wrong upstairs.

Dr. Mathys's jovial face wore a very different expression when his
imperial patient was doing well, and Granvelle always bestowed a friendly
nod on one and another if he himself had cause to be content.

When the door had closed behind the pair, the tongues of the
ecclesiastics, the secular lords, and the ladies in the corridor were
again loosed; but there were no loud discussions in the various languages
now mingling in the Golden Cross, far less was a gay exclamation or a
peal of laughter heard from any of the groups who stood waiting for the
shower to cease.

Although each individual was concerned about his own affairs, one
thought, nevertheless, ruled them all--the Emperor Charles, his health,
and his decisions.  Upon them depended not only the destiny of the world,
but also the weal and woe of the greatest as well as the humblest of
those assembled here.

"Emperor Charles" was the spell by which the inhabitants of half the
world obtained prosperity or ill-luck, war or peace, fulfilment or denial
of the wishes which most deeply stirred their souls.  Even the highest in
the land, who expected from his justice or favour fresh good-fortune or
the averting of impending disasters, found their way to him wherever, on
his long and numerous journeys, he established his court.

Numerous petitioners had also flocked to Ratisbon, but the two great
nobles who now entered the Golden Cross certainly did not belong to their
number.  One shook the raindrops from his richly embroidered velvet cloak
and the plumes in his cap, the other from his steel helmet and suit of
Milan mail, inlaid with gold.  Chamberlain de Praet accosted the former,
Duke Peter of Columna, in Italian; the latter, the Landgrave of
Leuchtenberg, in a mixture of German and his Flemish native tongue.  He
had no occasion to say much, for the Emperor wished to be alone.  He had
ordered even crowned heads and ambassadors to be denied admittance.

The Duke of Columna gaily begged for a dry shelter until the shower was
over, but the Landgrave requested to be announced to the Queen of
Hungary.

The latter, however, had also declined to grant any audiences that
afternoon.  The royal lady, the Emperor's favourite sister, was in her
own room, adjoining her imperial brother's, talking with Don Luis
Quijada, the brave nobleman of whom the Spanish and the Netherland
soldiers had spoken with equal warmth.

His personal appearance rendered it an easy matter to believe in the
sincerity of their words, for the carriage of his slender, vigorous form
revealed all the pride of the Castilian noble.  His face, with its
closely cut pointed beard, was the countenance of a true warrior, and the
expression of his black eyes showed the valiant spirit of a loyal, kind,
and simple heart.

The warm confidence with which Mary, the widow of the King of Hungary,
who fell in the Turkish war, gazed into Quijada's finely modelled,
slightly bronzed countenance proved that she knew how to estimate his
worth aright.  She had sent for him to open her whole heart.

The vivacious woman, a passionate lover of the chase, found life in
Ratisbon unendurable.  She would have left the city long ago to perform
her duties in the Netherlands--which she ruled as regent in the name of
her imperial brother--and devote herself to hunting, to her heart's
content, if the condition of the monarch's health had not detained her
near him.

She pitied Charles because she loved him, yet she was weary of playing
the sick nurse.

She had just indignantly informed Quijada what an immense burden of work,
in spite of the pangs of the gout, her suffering brother had imposed upon
himself ever since the first cock-crow.  But he would take no better care
of himself, and therefore it was difficult to help him.  Was it not
utterly unprecedented?  Directly after mass he had examined dozens of
papers, made notes on the margins, and affixed his signature; then he
received Father Pedro de Soto, his confessor, the nuncio, the English and
the Venetian ambassadors; and, lastly, had an interview with young
Granvelle, the Bishop of Arras, which had continued three full hours, and
perhaps might be going on still had not Dr. Mathys, the leech, put an end
to it.

Queen Mary had just found him utterly exhausted, with his face buried in
his hands.

"And you, too," she added in conclusion, "can not help admitting that if
this state of things continues there must be an evil end."

Quijada bent his head in assent, and then answered modestly:

"Yet your Majesty knows our royal master's nature.  He will listen calmly
to you, whom he loves, or to me, who was permitted to remain at his side
as a page, or probably to the two Granvelles, Malfalconnet, and others
whom he trusts, when they venture to warn him--"

"And yet keep on in his mad career," interrupted Queen Mary with an angry
gesture of the hand.

"Plus ultra--more, farther--is his motto," observed Quijada in a tone of
justification.

"Forward ceaselessly, for aught I care, so long as the stomach and the
feet are sound!" replied the Queen, raising her hand to the high lace
ruff, which oppressed the breathing of one so accustomed to the outdoor
air.  "But when, like him, a man must give up deer-stalking and at every
movement makes a wry face and can scarcely repress a groan--it might move
a stone to pity!--he ought to choose another motto.  Persuade him to do
so, Quijada, if you are really his friend."

The smile with which the nobleman listened to this request plainly showed
the futility of the demand.

The Queen noticed it, threw her arm aloft as if she were hurling a
hunting spear, and exclaimed "I'm not easily deceived, Luis.  Whether you
could or not, the will is lacking.  You shun the attempt!  Because you
are young yourself, and can still cope with the bear and wild boar, you
like the motto, which will probably lead to new wars, and thereby to
fresh renown.  But, alas!  my poor, poor brother, who--how long ago it
is!--could once have thrown even you upon the sand, what can he do, with
this accursed gout?  And besides, what more can the Emperor Charles gain,
since there is no chance of obtaining the sovereignty of the world, of
which he once dreamed?  He must learn to be content!  Surely at his age!
It is easy to calculate, for his life began with the century, and this is
its forty-sixth year.  Of course, with you soldiers the years of warfare
count double, and he--Duke Alba said so--was born a general.  One need
not be able to reckon far in order to number how many months he has spent
in complete peace.  And then he attained his majority at fifteen, and
with what weighty cares the man of the 'plus ultra' has loaded his
shoulders since that time!  You, and many others at the court, had still
more to do, but, Luis, one thing, and it is the hardest burden, you were
all spared.  I know it.  It is called responsibility.  Compared with
this all others are mere fluttering feathers.  Its weight may become
unendurable when the weal and woe of half the world are at stake.  Thus
every year of government was equal to three of war; but you, Luis--the
question is allowable when put to a man-how old are you?"

"Within a few months of forty."

"So young!" cried the Queen.  "Yet, when one looks at you closely, your
appearance corresponds with your years."

Quijada pointed to the gray locks on his temples, but the Queen eagerly
continued:

I noticed that at Brussels.  And do you know what gave you those few
white hairs?  Simply the responsibility that so cruelly shortened the
Emperor's youth, and which at least grazes you.  As I saw him to-day,
Luis, many a man of sixty has a more vigorous appearance."

"And yet, if your Majesty will permit me to say so," Quijada replied with
a low bow, "he may be in a very different condition to-morrow.  I heard
Dr. Mathys himself remark that the life of a gouty patient was like a
showery day in July--gloomy enough while the thunder-storm was raging,
but radiant before and afterward until the clouds rose again.  Surely
your Majesty remembers how erect, how vigorous, and how knightly his
bearing was when he greeted you on your arrival.  The happiness of having
his beloved sister again restored his paralyzed buoyancy speedily enough,
although just at present there is certainly no lack of cares pressing
upon him, and notwithstanding the disastrous conditions which we found
existing among the godless populace here.  That this cruel
responsibility, however, can mature the mind without harming the body
your Majesty is a living example."

"Nonsense!" retorted the regent in protest.  "From you, at least, I
forbid idle flattery!"

As she spoke she pointed with the riding whip, which, on account of her
four-footed favourites, she carried in her hand, to her own hair.  True,
so far as it was visible under the stiff jewelled velvet cap which
covered her head, the fair tresses had a lustrous sheen, and the braids,
interwoven with pearls, were unusually thick, but a few silver threads
appeared amid the locks which clustered around the intellectual brow.

Quijada saw them, and, with a respectful bow, answered.

"The heavy burden of anxiety for the Netherlands, which is not always
rewarded with fitting gratitude."

"Oh, no," replied the Queen, shrugging her shoulders contemptuously.
"Yes, many things in Brussels rouse my indignation, but they do not turn
my hair gray.  It began to whiten up here, under the widow's cap, if you
care to know it, and, if the Emperor's health does not improve, the locks
there will soon look like my white Diana's."

Here she hesitated, and, accustomed both in the discharge of the duties
of her office and during the chase not to deviate too far from the goal
she had in view, she first gave her favourite dog, which had leaped on
Don Luis in friendly greeting, a blow with her whip, and then said in a
totally different tone:

"But I am not the person in question.  You have already heard that you
must help me, Luis.  Did you see the Emperor yesterday after vespers?"

"I had the honour, your Majesty."

"And did not the conviction that he is in evil case force itself upon
you?"

"I felt it so keenly that I spoke to Dr. Mathys of his feeble appearance,
his bowed figure, and the other things which I would so gladly have seen
otherwise."

"And these things?  Speak frankly!"

"These things," replied the major-domo, after a brief hesitation, "are
the melancholy moods to which his Majesty often resigns himself for
hours."

"And which remind you of Queen Juana, our unhappy mother?" asked the
Queen with downcast eyes.

"Remind is a word which your Majesty will permit me to disclaim," replied
Quijada resolutely.  "The great thinker, who never loses sight of the
most distant goal, who weighs and considers again and again ere he
determines upon the only right course in each instance--the great general
who understands how to make far-reaching plans for military campaigns as
ably as to direct a cavalry attack--the statesman whose penetration
pierces deeper than the keen intelligence of his famous councillors--the
wise law-giver, the ruler with the iron strength of will and unfailing
memory, is perhaps the soundest person mentally among all of us at court-
nay, among the millions who obey him.  But, so far as my small share of
knowledge extends, melancholy has nothing to do with the mind.  It is
dependent upon the state of the spirits, and springs from bile----"

"You learned that from Dr. Mathys," interrupted the royal lady, "and the
quacks repeat it from their masters Hippocrates and Galen.  Such parrot
gabble does not please me.  To my woman's reason, it seems rather that
when the mind is ill we should try a remedy whose effect upon it has
already been proved, and I think I have found it."

"I am still ignorant of it," replied Quijada eagerly; "but I would swear
by my saint that you have hit upon the right expedient."

"Listen, then, and this time I believe you will have no cause to repent
your hasty oath.  Since death robbed our sovereign lord of his wife, and
the gout has prevented his enjoyment of the chief pleasures of life--
hunting, the tournament, and the other pastimes which people of our rank
usually pursue--in what can he find diversion?  The masterpieces of
painters and other artists, the inventions of mechanicians and clock-
makers, and the works of scholars have no place here, but probably----"

"Then it is the noble art of music which your Majesty has in view,"
Quijada eagerly interrupted.  "Admirable!  For, since the days of King
Saul and the harper David----"

"There is certainly no better remedy for melancholy," said the Queen,
completing the exclamation of the loyal man.  "But it could affect no
one more favourably than the Emperor.  You yourself know how keen a
connoisseur he is, and how often this has been confirmed by our greatest
masters.  Need I remind you of the high mass in Cologne, at which the
magnificent singing seemed fairly to reanimate him after the defection of
the heretical archbishop--which threatens to have a disastrous influence
upon my Netherlanders also--had robbed him of the last remnant of his
enjoyment of life, already clouded?  The indignation aroused by the
German princes, and the difficult decision to which their conduct is
forcing him, act upon his soul like poison.  But hesitation is not in
my nature, so I thought: Let us have music--good, genuine music.  Then
I sent a mounted messenger to order Gombert, the conductor of his
orchestra, and the director of my choir of boys, to bring their musicians
to Ratisbon.  The whole company will arrive this evening.  Dash forward
is my motto, and not only while in the saddle during the chase.  But,
Luis, you must now tell me--"

"That your Majesty's sisterly affection has discovered the only right
course," cried Quijada, deeply touched, pressing his lips respectfully to
the flowing sleeve of her robe.

The  major--domo's  assurance  undoubtedly sprang from the depths of his
heart, yet the doubts which the hasty action of the vivacious sovereign
aroused in his mind compelled him to represent to her, though with the
courteous caution which his position demanded, that her bold measure
might only too easily arouse the displeasure of the person whom it was
intended to benefit.  The expense it would entail especially troubled
Quijada, and the Queen herself appeared surprised when he estimated the
sum which would be required for the transportation of the band and the
boy choir from Brussels to Ratisbon and back again.

Forty musicians, twelve boy singers, the leaders, and the paymaster must
be moved, and in their train were numerous grooms and attendants, as well
as conveyances for the baggage and the valuable instruments.

Besides, the question of accommodation for this large number in the
already crowded city now arose, for the Queen confessed that, in order
to make the surprise complete, no one had been commissioned to find
lodgings.

The musicians, who had displayed the most praiseworthy promptness,
would arrive three days earlier than she had expected.

The royal lady readily admitted that the utmost haste was necessary.
Yet she knew that, if any one could accomplish the impossible, it was
Quijada, where the object in view was to serve her and the Emperor.

The influence of this eulogy was doubled by a tender glance from her
bright eyes, and the Spaniard promised to do everything in his power to
secure the success of her beautiful surprise.  There would undoubtedly
be difficulties with his Majesty and the treasurer on the score of the
expense, for their finances were at the very lowest ebb.

"There is always the same annoyance where money is concerned," cried the
Queen irritably, "in spite of the vast sums which my Netherlands pour
into the treasury--four times as much as Spain supplies, including the
gold and silver of the New World.  You keep it secret, but two fifths of
the revenue from all the countries over which Charles reigns are
contributed by my provinces.  Torrents of ducats inundate your treasury,
and yet--yet--it's enough to drive one mad!--in spite of this and the
lamentable parsimony with which the Emperor deprives himself of both
great and small pleasures--it is simply absurd!--the story is always:
The finances are at the lowest ebb--save and save again.  To protect the
plumes in his new cap from being injured by the rain, the sovereign of
half the world ordered an old hat to be brought, and waited in the shower
until the shabby felt came.  And where are the millions which this
excellent economist saves from his personal expenses?  The dragon War
devours them all.  True, he has vanquished foes enough, but the demon of
melancholy, that makes even Dr. Mathys anxious, is far worse than the
infidels before whom you were compelled to retreat in Algiers--far more
terrible than the Turks and heretics combined.  Yet what are you and the
wise treasurer doing?  The idea of lessening the salaries of the
physician-in-ordinary and his colleagues has never entered the heads of
the estimable gentlemen who call themselves his Majesty's faithful
servants.  Very well!  Then put the musicians' travelling expenses upon
the apothecary's bill.  They have as much right to be there as the senna
leaves.  But, if the penny pinchers in the council of finance refuse to
advance the necessary funds, why--charge this medicine to my account.
I'll pay for it, in spite of the numerous leeches that suck my
substance."

"It certainly will not come to that, your Majesty," replied Quijada
soothingly.  "Our sovereign lord knows, too, that it beseems him to be
less rigid in saving.  Only yesterday he dipped into his purse deeply
enough for another remedy."

"What was that?"  asked the Queen in surprise.

"He paid the debts of my colleague Malfalconnet, not less than ten
thousand ducats."

"There it is!"  exclaimed the regent, striking her hands sharply
together.  "The baron dispels the Emperor's melancholy by his ready wit,
which often hits the nail on the head, and his nimble tongue, but my
medicine must provide the fitting mood for Malfalconnet's dearly bought
jests and witticisms to exert the proper influence."

"And, moreover," Quijada added gaily, "your Majesty will present the
completed deed for the treasurer's action.  But now I most humbly entreat
you to dismiss me.  I must inform the quartermasters at once, and look
after the matter myself if your Majesty's costly magic pills are not to
be spoiled by this wet April weather.  Besides, many of the musicians are
not the strongest of men."

Bowing as he spoke, he prepared to take leave of the Queen, but she
detained him with the remark:

"Our invitation went to Sir Wolf Hartschwert also.  He is a native of
Ratisbon, and can aid you and the quartermasters in assigning lodgings."

"A fresh proof of the wise caution of my august mistress," replied
Quijada.  "If your Majesty will permit, I should like to talk with my
royal patroness about this man shortly.  I have something in my mind
concerning him which can not be easily explained in a few words,
especially as I know that the modest, trustworthy fellow----"

"If what you have in view is for his benefit," the Queen eagerly
interrupted, "it is granted in advance."

The promise reached Quijada just as he gained the threshold; ere he
crossed it, Queen Mary called to him again, saying frankly: "I will not
let you go so, Luis!  You are an honest man, and I am ashamed to deceive
you.  The cure of his Majesty's melancholy is my principal object, it is
true, but one half the expense of this medicine ought to be credited to
me; for--but do not tell the treasurer--for it will afford me relief
also.  I can endure these rooms no longer.  The forest is putting forth
its first green leafage.  The birds are returning.  Red deer are plenty
in the woods along the Danube.  I must get out of doors into the open
air.  As matters are now, I could not leave his Majesty; but when the
band and the boy choir are at his disposal, they will dispel his
melancholy moods, and I can venture later to leave him to you and
Malfalconnet, whose wit will be freshly seasoned by the payment of his
debts.  O Luis! if only I can get out of doors!  Meanwhile, may music do
for my imperial brother what we anticipate!  And one thing more: Take
Master Adrian with you.  I released him from attendance upon the Emperor
until midnight.  It was no easy matter.  When you have provided the
favourites of Apollo with lodgings, come to me again, however late the
hour may be.  Sir Wolf Hartschwert must call early to-morrow morning.
The nuncio brought some new songs from Rome.  The music is too high for
my voice, and the knight understands how to transpose the notes for me
better than even the leader of the choir, Appenzelder."



CHAPTER II.

The April sun, ere it sank to rest, had won the victory and kindly
dried the garments of the horsemen who were approaching Ratisbon by
the Nuremberg road.

A young man who had ridden forward in advance of the great train of
travellers behind him checked his steed above the village of Kneiting,
just where the highway descended in many a curve to the valley of the
Danube, and gazed at the landscape whose green spring leafage, freshened
by rain, appeared before him.

His heart throbbed faster, and he thought that he had seen no fairer
prospect in all the wide tract of earth over which he had wandered during
the past five years.  Below him were green meadows and fields, pleasant
villages, and the clear, full current of the Danube, along whose left
bank extended a beautifully formed mountain chain, whose declivity toward
the river presented a rich variety to the eye, for sometimes it was
clothed in budding groves, sometimes displayed picturesque bare cliffs,
and again vineyards in which labourers were working.  From the farthest
distance the steeples of Ratisbon offered the first greeting to the
resting horseman.

What a wealth of memories this pleasant landscape awoke in the mind of
the returning traveller!  How often he had walked through these charming
valleys, climbed these heights, stopped in these villages!  It was
difficult for him to turn from this view, but he let his bay horse have
its way when the companion whom he had left behind overtook him here, and
the animal followed the other's black Brabant steed, with which it had
long been on familiar terms.  He rode slowly at his friend's side into
the valley.

Both silently feasted their eyes upon the scene opening with increasing
magnificence before them.

As they reached the village of Winzer, the victorious sun was approaching
the western horizon, and diffused over it a fan of golden rays.  The gray
cloud bank above, which a light breeze was driving before it, was
bordered with golden edges.  The young green foliage, refreshed by the
rain, glittered as richly and magnificently as emerald and chrysoprase,
and the primroses and other early spring flowers, which had just grown up
along the roadside and in the meadows, shone in brighter colours than in
the full light of noon.  The big fresh drops on the leaves and blossoms
sparkled and glittered in the last rays of the sun.

Now Ratisbon also appeared.

The city, with its throng of steeples, was surrounded by a damp vapour
which the reflection of the sun coloured with a faint, scarcely
perceptible roseate hue.  The notes of bells from the twin towers of the
cathedral and the convent of Nieder Munster, from St. Emmeram on the
right, and the church of the Dominicans on the left, echoed softly in
this hour when Nature and human activity were at rest--often dying away
in the distance--to greet the returning citizen.

Obeying an involuntary impulse, Wolf Hartschwert raised his hat.  Within
the shelter of the walls of this venerable city he had played as a boy,
completed his school and student days, and early felt the first quickened
throbbing of the heart.  Here he had first been permitted to test what
knowledge he had won in the schools of poetry and music.

He had remained in Ratisbon until his twenty-first year, then he had
ventured out into the world, and, after an absence of five years, he was
returning home again.

But was the stately city before him really his home?

When he had just gazed down upon it from the height, this question had
occupied his thoughtful mind.

He had not been born on the shore of this river, but of the Main.  All
who had been dearest to him in Ratisbon--the good people who had reared
him from his fourth year as their own child, the woman who gave him
birth, and the many others to whom he was indebted for kindnesses--were
no longer there.

But why had he not thought first of the mother, who is usually the centre
of the circle of love, and whose figure precedes every other, now that he
was approaching the place where she rested beneath the turf?  He asked
himself the question with a faint feeling of self-reproach, but he did
not confess the true reason.

When the summons to Ratisbon had reached him in Brussels, he had been
joyously ready to obey it--nay, he had felt it a great happiness to see
again the beloved place for which he had never ceased to long.  And yet,
the nearer he approached it, the more anxiously his heart throbbed.

When, soon after noonday, the rain drenched him, he had experienced
no discomfort, because such exquisite sunny visions of the future had
hovered before him; but as the sky cleared they had shrivelled and doubt
of the result of the decision which he was riding to meet had cast
everything else into the shade.

Now the whole city appeared before him, and, as he looked at the
cathedral, whose machicolated tower permitted the rosy hue of the sky to
shine through, his heart rose again, and he gazed with grateful delight
at the verdant spring attire of his home and the magnificence with which
she greeted him; her returning son.

"Isn't it beautiful here?" he asked, suddenly breaking the silence as
he turned to Massi, the violinist, who rode at his side, and then was
secretly grateful to him when, after a curt "Very pleasant," he disturbed
him with no further speech.

It was so delightful to listen to the notes of the bells, so familiar to
him, whose pure tones had accompanied with their charming melody all his
wanderings in childhood and youth.  At the same time, the mood in which
the best musical ideas came to him suddenly overpowered him.  A new air,
well worth remembering, pressed itself on him unbidden, and his excited
imagination showed him in its train himself, and by his side, first, a
romping, merry child, and then a girlish figure in the first budding
charm of youth.  He thought he heard her sing, and old, unforgotten notes
of songs swiftly crowded out his own musical creations.

Every tone from the fresh red lips of the lovely fair-haired girl
awakened a new memory.  The past lived again, and, without his volition,
transformed the image of the child of whom he had thought whenever he
recalled his youthful days in Ratisbon into that of a lovely bride, with
the myrtle wreath on her waving hair, while beside her he beheld himself
with the wedding bouquet on his slashed velvet holiday doublet.

He involuntarily seized the saddlebag which contained the handsomest
gift he had bought in Brussels for the person who had drawn him back to
Ratisbon with a stronger power of attraction than anything else.  If all
went well, that very day, perhaps, he might have the right to call her
his own.

These visions of the future aroused so joyous a feeling in his young soul
that Massi, the violinist, read in his by no means mobile features what
was passing in his mind.  His cheery "Well, Sir Knight!" awakened his
ever-courteous colleague and travelling companion from his dream, and,
when the latter started and turned toward him, Alassi gaily continued:
"To see his home and his family again does, indeed, make any man glad!
The sight of yonder shining steeples and roofs seems to make your heart
laugh, Sir Wolf, and, by Our Lady, you have good reason to bestow one or
more candles upon her, for, besides other delightful things, a goodly
heritage is awaiting you in Ratisbon."

Here he paused, for the sunny radiance vanished simultaneously from
the sky and from his companion's face. The violinist, as if in apology,
added: "Some trouble always precedes an inheritance, and who knows
whether, in your case also, rumour did not follow the evil custom of
lying or making a mountain out of a molehill?"

Wolf Hartschwert slightly shrugged his shoulders and calmly answered:

"It is all true about the heritage, Massi, and also the trouble, but it
is unpleasant to hear you, too, call me 'Sir.'  Let it drop for the
future, if we are to be intimate.  To others I shall, of course, be the
knight or cavalier.  You know what the title procures for a man, though
your saying--

              'Knightly Knightly rank with lack of land
               More care than joy hath at command,'

is but too true.  As for the heritage, an old friend has really named me
in his will, but you must not expect that it is a large bequest.  The man
who left it to me was a plain person of moderate property, and I myself
shall not learn until the next few days what I am to receive in addition
to his modest house."

"The more it is, the more cordially I shall congratulate you," cried the
violinist, and then looked back toward the other travellers.

Wolf did the same, and turned his horse.  If he did not urge on the
loiterers the gate, which was closed at nightfall, would need to be
opened for them, for the five troopers who acted as escort had deemed
their duty done when Winzer was reached, and made themselves comfortable
in the excellent tavern there.

The carters had used the lash stoutly, yet it had been no easy matter to
advance rapidly.  The rain had softened the road, and the horses and
beasts of burden were sorely wearied by the long trip from Brussels to
Ratisbon, which had been made in hurried days' journeys.  The train of
horsemen and wagons stretched almost beyond the range of vision, for it
comprised the whole world-renowned orchestra of the Emperor Charles, and
Queen Mary's boy choir.

Only the leaders were absent.  Gombert had left Brussels later than the
others, and hastened after them with post-horses, overtaking them about
an hour before, when he induced Appenzelder, the leader of the boy choir,
to enter his carriage, though the latter was reluctant to leave the young
singers who were intrusted to his care.  As to the other travellers, the
Queen and Don Luis Quijada had made a great mistake in their
calculations--the number considerably exceeded a hundred.  Neither had
thought of the women and children who accompanied the musicians.

Most of the women were the wives of the members of the orchestra, who
had availed themselves of this opportunity to see something of the world.
Others, from motives of love or jealousy, would not part from their
husbands.  The little children had been taken because their mothers, who
were fond of travelling and, like their husbands, were natives of all
countries, possessed no relatives in Brussels who would care for them.

The jealous spouses especially had not joined the party without cogent
reasons, for the mirth in the first long wagon, covered with a linen
tilt, was uproarious enough.

Wolf and his companion heard shrill laughter and loud shrieks echoing
from its dusky interior.

The younger men and the women who liked journeying were sitting in motley
confusion upon the straw which covered the bottom of the vehicle, and the
boisterous mirth of the travellers gave ample proof that the huge jugs of
wine carried with them as  the Emperor's provision for the journey had
been freely used.

In the second cart, an immense ark, swaying between four wheels and drawn
by a team of four horses, grave older artists sat silently opposite to
each other, all more or less exhausted by the continual rocking motion of
the long ride.  These men and the other travellers were joyfully
surprised by the news that the goal of the journey was already at hand.
Pressing their heads together, they gazed out of the open linen tilt
which arched above the first cart or crowded to the little windows of the
coaches to see Ratisbon.

Even the old Neapolitan nurse, who was predicting future events from a
pack of cards, dropped them and peered out.  But the noise in the second
tilted wagon was especially confused, for there the gay shouts of the boy
choir, only half of whom were on horseback, mingled with the loud talking
of the women, the screams of the babies, and the barking of the dogs.

The groans of two young singers who were seriously ill were drowned by
the din and heeded by no one except the old drummer's pitying wife, who
sometimes wiped the perspiration from the sufferers' brows or supported
their heads.

Other carts, containing the musicians' instruments, followed this tilted
wagon.  Some members of the orchestra would not part with theirs, and
behind the saddle of many a mounted virtuoso or attendant was fastened a
violin case or a shapeless bag which concealed some other instrument.

A large number of musicians mounted on horses or mules surrounded the
two-wheeled cart in which sat Hernbeize of Ghent, the treasurer of the
orchestra, and his fat wife.  The corpulent couple, squeezed closely
together, silent and out of humour, had taken no notice of each other or
their surrounding since Frau Olympia had presumed to drag her husband by
force out of the first wagon, where he was paying a visit to a clarionet
player's pretty young wife.

Whenever Wolf appeared he urged the horsemen and drivers to greater
haste, and thus the musical caravan, with its unauthorized companions,
succeeded in passing through the gate ere it closed.  Beyond it the
travellers were received by Quijada, the imperial valet, Adrian Dubois,
and several quartermasters, who meanwhile had provided lodgings.

The major-domo greeted the musicians with dignified condescension, Wolf
with familiar friendship.  Master Adrian, the valet, also shook hands
cordially with him and Massi, the "first violin" of the orchestra.
Finally Don Luis rode up to Wolf and informed him that the Queen of
Hungary wished to speak to him early the next morning, and that he also
had something important to discuss at the earliest opportunity.  Then he
listened to the complaints of the quartermasters.

These men, who performed their duties with great lack of consideration,
had supposed that they had provided for all the expected arrivals, but,
after counting heads, they discovered that the billets were sufficient
for only half the number.  Their attempt to escape providing for the
wives was baffled by the vigorous interposition of the treasurer and by
a positive order from Quijada.

Of course, under these circumstances they were very glad to have Sir Wolf
Hartschwert return his billet--the room in the Crane allotted to him by
the valet was large enough to accommodate half a dozen women.

The nobleman returning to his home had no occasion to find shelter in a
tavern.

Yet, as he wished to remove the traces of the long ride ere he entered
his own house and appeared before the person for whose sake he had gladly
left Brussels, he asked Massi's permission to use his room in the Red
Cock for a short time.

Leonhard Leitgeb, the landlord, and his bustling better half received
Wolf as a neighbour's son and an old acquaintance.  But, after they had
shown him and Massi to the room intended for them and gone downstairs
again, the landlady of the Cock shook her head, saying:

"He was always a good lad and a clever one, too, but even if a duke's
coronet should fall upon the thin locks of the poor knight's son I should
never take him for a real nobleman."

"Better let that drop," replied her husband.  "Besides, the fine fellow
is of more consequence since he had the legacy.  If he should come here
for our Kattl, I'll wager you wouldn't keep him waiting."

"Indeed I wouldn't," cried the landlady, laughing.  "But just hear what a
racket those soldiers are making again down below!"

Meanwhile Wolf was hurriedly attending to his outer man.

Massi had stretched himself on the thin cushion which covered the seat of
the wooden bench in the bay-window, and thrust his feet far out in front
of him.

As he watched the Ratisbon knight diligently use the little hand mirror
while arranging his smooth, fair locks, he straightened himself, saying:

"No offence, Sir Knight, but when I think of the radiant face with which
you gazed down into the valley of the Danube from the hill where you
stopped before sunset, and now see how zealously you are striving to
adorn your person, it seems to me that there must be in this good city
some one for whom you care more than for all you left behind in Brussels.
At your age, that is a matter of course, if there is a woman in the case,
as I suppose.  I know very well what I should do if I were in your place.
Longing often urges me back to Spain like a scourge.  I have already told
you why I left my dear wife there in our home.  A few more years in the
service, and our savings and the pension together will be enough to
support us there and lay aside a little marriage dowry for our daughter.
When I have what is necessary, I shall turn my back on the orchestra and
the court of Brussels that very day, dear as music is to me, and sure as
I am that I shall never again find a leader like our Gombert.  You do not
yet know with how sharp a tooth yearning rends the soul of the man whom
Fate condemns to live away from his family.  This place is your home, and
dearer to you than any other, so build yourself a snug nest here with the
person you have in mind."

"How gladly I would do so!" replied the young knight, "but whether I can
must be decided within the next few davs."

"Inde-e-ed?"  drawled Massi; then he bent his eyes thoughtfully upon the
floor for a short time, and, after calling Wolf by name in a tone of
genuine friendly affection, he frankly added: "Surely you know how dear a
comrade you are to me!  Yet precisely for that reason I stick to my
counsel.  It's not only on account of the homesickness--I am, thinking
rather of your position at court--and, let me speak candidly, it is
unworthy of a nobleman and a musician of such ability.  The regent is
graciously disposed toward you, and you praise her liberality, but do you
yourself know the name of the office which you fill?  More than enough is
placed upon you, and yet, so far as I see, nothing complete.  They
understand admirably how to make use of you.  It would be well if that
applied solely to the musician.  But sometimes she makes you secretary,
and you have to waste whole days in writing letters and do penance for
having learned so many languages; sometimes you must share in the folly
of arranging performances, and your wealth of knowledge is industriously
utilized in preparing mythological figures and devising new ideas for the
exhibitions at which we have to furnish the music.  This affords plenty
of labour, but others reap the credit.  Recently the Bishop of Arras even
asked you to write in German what he dictated in French, although you
are in the regent's service, and just at that time you were transposing
the old church songs for the boy choir.  I regret to see you do such
tradesmen's work without adequate reward.  Why, even if her Majesty would
give you a fat living or appoint you to the imperial council which
directs musical affairs in the Netherlands!  Pardon me, Sir Wolf!
But give people an inch, and they take an ell, and your ever ready
obligingness will injure you, for the harder it is to win a thing the
higher its value becomes.  You made yourself too cheap at court here
people will surely know how to put a higher value upon a man who is
equally skilful in Netherland, Italian, and German music.  In
counterpoint you are little inferior to Maestro Gombert, and, besides,
you play as many instruments as you have fingers on your hands.  We all
like to have you lead us, because you do it with such delicate taste and
comprehension, and, moreover, with a vigour which one would scarcely
expect from you.  You will not lack patrons.  Look around you here or
elsewhere for a position as leader of an orchestra.  Goinbert, to relieve
himself a little, would like to have de Hondt come from Antwerp to
Brussels.  His place would be the very one for you if you find nothing
worthy of you here, where you have a house of your own and other things
that bind you to the city."

"Here I should probably be obliged to crowd somebody else out of one in
order to obtain a position," replied Wolf, "and I am unwilling to do so."

"You are wrong," cried the violinist.  "The course of the world causes
the stronger--and that you are--to take precedence of the weaker.  Learn
at last to give up this modest withdrawal and elbow your way forward!"

"Pressing and jostling are not in my nature;" replied Wolf with a slight
shrug of the shoulders.  "Since I may hope to be relieved of anxiety
concerning my daily bread, I am disposed to leave the court and seek
quiet happiness in a more definite circle of duties at home.  You see,
Massi, it is just the same with us human beings as with material things.
There is my man cutting the rope from yonder package with his sharp
knife.  The contents are distributed in a trice, and yet it was tiresome
to collect them and pack them carefully.  Thus it would need only a word
to separate myself from the court; but to join it again would be a
totally different affair.  There have been numerous changes in this city
since I went away, and many a hand which pressed mine in farewell is no
longer here, or would perhaps be withdrawn, merely because I am a
Catholic and intend to stay here among the Protestants.  Besides--lay the
roll on the table, Janche--besides, as you have already heard, the final
decision does not depend upon myself.--Take care, Jan.  That little
package is breakable!"

This last exclamation was addressed to Wolf's Netherland servant, who was
just unpacking his master's leather bag.

Massi noticed that the articles taken out could scarcely be intended for
a man's use, and, pointing to a piece of Flanders velvet, he gaily
remarked:

"So my guess was correct.  Here, too, the verdict is to be pronounced by
beardless lips."  Wolf blushed like a girl, but, after the violinist had
waited a short time for the confirmation of his conjecture, he continued
more gravely:

"It ill befits me to intrude upon your secret.  Every one must go his own
way, and I have wondered why a person who so readily renders a service to
others pursues his own path so unsocially.  Will you ever let your friend
know what stirs your heart?"

"I should often have confided in you gladly," replied Wolf, "but a
certain shyness always restrained me.  How can others be interested in
what befalls a lonely, quiet fellow like me?  It is not my habit to talk
much, but you will always find me ready to use hand and brain in behalf
of one who is as dear to me as you, Massi."

"You have already given me proof of that," replied the violinist, "and I
often marvel how you find time, without neglecting your own business, to
do so much for others with no payment except thanks.  I thought you would
accomplish something great, because you paid no heed to women; but
probably you depend on other powers, for if it is a pair of beautiful
eyes whose glance is to decide so important a matter----"

"Never mind that," interrupted Wolf beseechingly, raising his hand
soothingly.  "I confess with Terentius that nothing human is strange to
me.  As soon as the decision comes, I will tell you--but you alone--
several particulars.  Now accept my thanks for your well-meant counsel
and the use of your room.  I'll see you again early to-morrow.  I
promised Gombert and the leader of the boy choir to lend them a helping
hand, so we shall probably meet at the rehearsal.--Go to the stable,
Janche, and see that the groom has rubbed the bay down thoroughly.  As
for the rolls and packages here----"

"I'll help you carry them," said the violinist, seizing his shoes; but
Wolf eagerly declined his assistance, and went out to ask the landlord to
let him have one of his men.

But the servants of the overcrowded Red Cock all had their hands full,
so the nine-year-old son of the Leitgeb couple and the cellar man's two
somewhat younger boys, who had not yet gone to bed, were made bearers of
the parcels.

How eager they were to do something which suited grown people, and, when
Wolf described the place where they were to carry the articles, Fran
Leitgeb sympathizingly helped him, and charged the children to hold the
valuable packages very carefully.  They must not spare the knocker in the
second story of the cantor house, for old Ursula's hearing was no longer
the best, and since the day before yesterday--Kathl had brought the news
home--she had been ill.  "Some rare luck," the landlady continued, "will
surely follow the knight up to the Blombergs.  The same old steep path,
leads there; but as to Wawer!--it would be improper to say Jungfrau
Barbara--you will surer open your eyes--" Here she was summoned to the
kitchen, and Wolf followed his little assistants into the street.



CHAPTER III.

The cantor house was only a few steps from the Red Cock, and Wolf knew
every stone in the street, which was named for the tavern.  Yet that very
circumstance delayed him, for even the smallest trifle which had changed
during his absence attracted his attention.

He had already noticed at the familiar inn that the gay image of the
Madonna and Cluld, and the little lamp above, were no longer there.  The
pictures of the saints had been removed from the public rooms, and even
the painting which had been impressed upon his memory from boyhood--like
a sign of the house--had vanished.  A large red cock, crowing with wide-
open beak at the Apostle Peter, had been there.

This venerable work of an old artist ought to have been retained, no
matter what doctrine the Leitgebs now professed.  Its disappearance
affected the knight unpleasantly.

It also induced him to see whether the Madonna with the swords in her
heart, which, at the time of his departure, had adorned the Ark, the
great house at the corner of the Haidplatz, had met with the same fate,
and this sacred witness of former days had likewise been sacrificed to
the iconoclasm of the followers of the new Protestant faith.  This also
grieved him, and urged him to go from street to street, from church to
church, from monastery to monastery, from one of the chapels which no
great mansion in his native land lacked to another, in order to ascertain
what else religious fanaticism had destroyed; but he was obliged to
hasten if he wished to be received by those in his home whom he most
desired to see.

The windows of the second story in the Golden Cross, opposite to the Ark,
were brilliantly lighted.  The Emperor Charles lodged there, and probably
his royal sister also.  Wolf had given his heart to her with the devotion
with which he had always clung to every one to whom he was indebted for
anv kindness.  He knew her imperial brother's convictions, too, and when
he saw at one of the windows a man's figure leaning, motionless against
the casement with his hand pressed upon his brow, he realized what deep
indignation had doubtless seized upon him at the sight of the changes
which had taken place here during the five years of his absence.

But Emperor Charles was not the man to allow matters which aroused his
wrath and strong disapproval to pass unpunished.  Wolf suspected that
the time was not far distant when yonder monarch at the window, who had
won so many victories, would have a reckoning with the Smalcalds, the
allied Protestants of Germany, and his vivid imagination surrounded him
with an almost mystical power.

He would surely succeed in becoming the master of the Protestant princes;
but was the steel sword the right weapon to destroy this agitation of the
soul which had sprung from the inmost depths of the German nature?  He
knew the firm, obstinate followers of the new doctrine, for there had
been a time when his own young mind had leaned toward it.

Since those days, however, events had happened which had bound him by
indestructible fetters to the old faith.  He had vowed to his dying
mother to remain faithful to the Holy Church and loyally to keep his
oath.  It was not difficult for one of his modest temperament to be
content with the position of spectator of the play of life which he
occupied.  He was not born for conflict, and from the seat to which he
had retired he thought he had perceived that the burden of existence was
easier to bear, and the individual not only obtained external comfort,
but peace of mind more speedily, if he left to the Church many things
which the Protestant was obliged to settle for himself.  Besides, as
such, he would have missed many beautiful and noble things which the
old faith daily bestowed upon him, the artist.

People in Ratisbon held a different opinion.  Defection from the Roman
Catholic Church, which seemed to him reprehensible, was considered here a
sacred duty, worthy of every sacrifice.  This threatened to involve him
in fresh spiritual conflicts, and, as he dreaded such things as nocturnal
birds shun the sunlight, he stood still, thoughtfully asking himself
whether he ought not at once to give up the desire of striking new roots
into this perilous soil.

Only one thing really bound him to Ratisbon, and that was by no means the
house which he had inherited, but a very young girl, and, moreover, a
very changeable one, of whose development and life he had heard nothing
during his absence except that she had not become another's wife.
Perhaps this girl, whose charm and musical talent, according to his
opinion, were unequalled in Ratisbon, had remained free solely because
she was keeping the promise made when, a child of sixteen, she bade him
farewell.  She had told him, though only in her lively childish fashion,
that she would wait for him and become his wife when he returned home a
made man.  Yet it now seemed that she had been as sincerely in earnest in
that youthful betrothal as he himself.

This fair hope crowded every scruple far into the shade.  If Barbara had
kept her troth to him, he would reward her.  Wherever he might build his
nest with her, he would be sure of the richest happiness.  Therefore he
persisted in making his decision for the future depend upon her
reception.

The only question was whether it had not already grown too late for him
to visit her and her father, who went to bed with the chickens.  But the
new clock in Jacobsplatz pealed only nine bell-like strokes through the
stillness of the evening, and, as he had sent his gifts in advance, he
was obliged to follow them.

He might now regard the cantor house, which was quickly gained, as his
own.  Though it was now in the deepest darkness, he gazed up at the high,
narrow building, with the pointed arches of the windows and the bracket
which supported the image of St. Cecilia carved from sandstone, as
intently as if he could distinguish every defect in the windows, every
ornament carved in the ends of the beams.

The second story, which projected above the ground floor into the street,
was completely dark; but a faint glimmer of light streamed from the
little window over the spurge laurel tree, and--this was the main thing
--the bow window in the third story was still lighted.

She whom he sought was waiting there with her father, while beneath it
was the former abode of the precentor and organist and his wife, who had
reared Wolf, and whose heir, after the old man's death, he had become.

He would take up his quarters in the room which he had occupied as a
scholar, where he had studied, practised music, trained himself in the
art of composition, and in leisure hours had even drawn and painted a
little.

Old Ursula, as he had learned from the legal document which informed him
of his inheritance, was taking care of the property bequeathed to him.
With what pleasure the old maid-servant, faithful soul, who had come with
him--then a little four-year-old boy--and his mother to Ratisbon twenty-
two years ago, would make a bed for him and again cook the pancakes,
which she knew to be his favourite dish!

The thought of the greeting awaiting him from her dispelled the timidity
with which he had set his foot on the first of the three steps that led
up to the threshold of the house.  He had no occasion to use the knocker;
a narrow, long streak of light showed that, notwithstanding the late
hour, the outer door was ajar.

Now he heard an inner door open, and this again aroused the anxiety
he had just conquered.  Suppose that he should find Wawerl below?
Ardently as he yearned for her to whom all the love of his heart
belonged, this meeting would have come too quickly.  Yet she might very
easily happen to be in the lower story, for the lighted window beside the
door belonged to the little house chapel, and since her confirmation she
had undertaken to sweep it, clean the candlesticks and lamps, and keep
them in order, fill the vases on the little altar with blossoms, and
adorn the image of the Madonna with flowers on Lady day and other
festivals.

How often he had helped the child and heard her father call her "his
little sacrist"!

The chapel here had gained greater importance to him when the Blombergs
placed above the altar the Madonna and Child which he, who tried all the
arts, had copied with his own hand from an ancient painting.  This had
been in July; but when, on the Virgin's Assumption day in August, Barbara
was twining a beautiful garland of summer flowers around it, and he, with
an overflowing heart, was helping her, his head accidentally struck
against hers, and to comfort her he compassionately kissed the bruised
spot.  Only a short time ago she had frankly thrown her arms around his
neck if she wanted him to gratify a wish or forgive an offence without
ever receiving a response to her affection.  This time he had been the
aggressor, and received an angry rebuff; during the little scuffle which
now followed, Wolf's heart suddenly grew hot, and his kiss fell upon her
scarlet lips.  The first was followed by several others, until steps on
the stairs parted the young lover from the girl, who offered but a feeble
resistance.

Now he remembered the incident, and his cheeks flushed again.  Oh, if
to-day he should possess the right to have those refractory lips at his
disposal!

During the five months spent in Ratisbon after that attack in the chapel
he had more than once been bold enough to strive for more kisses, but
always in vain, and rarely without bearing away a sharp reprimand, for
Barbara had felt her slight resistance in the chapel as a grave offence.
She had permitted something forbidden under the eyes of the Virgin's
image, and this had seemed to her so wicked that she had confessed it,
and not only been sternly censured, but had a penance imposed.

Barbara had not forgotten this, and had understood how to keep him aloof
with maidenly austerity until, on the evening before his departure, he
had hung around her neck the big gold thaler his godfather had given him.

Then, obeying an impulse of gratitude, she had thrown her arms around his
neck; but even then she would not allow him to kiss her lips again.
Instead, she hastily drew back to examine the gold thaler closely,
praised its weight and beauty, and then promised Wolf that when she was
rich and he had become a great lord she would have a new goblet made for
him out of just such coins, like one which she had seen at the Wollers in
the Ark, the richest of her wealthy relatives.

As Wolf now recalled this promise it vexed him again.

What had he expected from that parting hour--the vow of eternal fidelity,
a firm betrothal, ardent kisses, and a tender embrace?  But, instead of
obtaining even one of these beautiful things, he had become involved in a
dispute with Barbara because he desired to receive nothing from her, and
only claimed the right of showering gifts upon her later.

This had pleased her, and, when he urged her to promise to wait for him
and become his wife when he returned home a made man, she laughed gaily,
and declared that she liked him, and, if it should be he who obtained for
her what she now had in mind, she would be glad.

Then his loving heart overflowed, and with her hands clasped in his he
entreated her to give up these arrogant thoughts, be faithful to him, and
not make him wretched.

The words had poured so ardently, so passionately from the quiet, sedate
young man's lips that the girl was thoroughly frightened, and wrenched
her hands from his grasp.  But when she saw how deeply her struggling
hurt him, she voluntarily held out her right hand, exclaiming:

"Only succeed while you are absent sufficiently to build a house like
our old one in the Kramgasse, and when the roof is on and your knightly
escutcheon above the door we will move in together, and life will be
nothing but music and happiness."

This was all that gave him the right to consider her as his betrothed
bride, for after a brief farewell and a few kisses of the hand flung to
him from the threshold, she had escaped to the little bow-windowed room
and thereby also evaded from the departing lover an impressive, well-
prepared speech concerning the duties of a betrothed couple.

Yet in Rome and Brussels Wolf had held fast to the conviction that a
beloved betrothed bride was awaiting him in Ratisbon.

So long as his foster-parents lived he had had news from them of the
Blombergs.  After the death of the old couple, Barbara's father had
answered in a very awkward manner the questions which he had addressed to
him in a letter, and his daughter wrote a friendly message under the old
captain's signature.  True, it was extremely brief, but few fiery love
letters ever made the recipient happier or were more tenderly pressed to
the lips.

The girl he loved still bore the name of Barbara Blomberg.

This outweighed a whole archive of long letters.  The captain, who, for
the sake of fighting the infidels, had so sadly neglected his property
that his own house in the Kramgasse fell into the hands of his creditors,
had rented the second story in the cantor house.  Barbara at that time
was very small, but now she had ceased to be a child, and, after she
devoted herself earnestly to acquiring the art of singing, the old
warrior had undertaken to keep the little chapel in order.

The task certainly seemed strangely ill-suited to the tall, broad-
shouldered man with the bushy eyebrows, long beard, and mustache twisted
stiffly up at the ends, who had obtained in Tunis and during the Turkish
war the reputation of being one of the most fearless heroes, and carried
away severe wounds; but he knew how to make scoffers keep their distance,
and did not trouble himself at all about other people.

Regularly every evening he went down the stairs and performed the duty he
had undertaken with the punctilious care of a neat housewife.

He was a devout man, and did his work there in the hope of pleasing the
Holy Virgin, because the reckless old warrior was indebted to her for
more than one deliverance from impending death, and because he trusted
that she would repay it to him in his child.

Besides, his income was not large enough for him to keep a maid-servant
of his own, and he could not expect old Ursel, who had worked for the
precentor and his wife, and performed the roughest labour in the third
story for a mere "thank you," to take care of the chapel also.  She had
plenty to do, and besides she had been a Protestant three years, and took
the Lord's Supper in a different form.

This would have induced him to break off every connection with his old
friend's maid-servant had not his kind, grateful heart forbidden him to
hurt her feelings.  Besides, she was almost indispensable to his daughter
and himself; it was difficult enough, in any case, for the nobly born
captain to meet the obligations imposed by his position.

He now received only a very small portion of the profits of the lumber
trade which had supported his ancestors, his father, and himself very
handsomely, for he had been compelled to mortgage his share in the
business.

Notwithstanding the title of "Captain" with which his imperial commander
had honoured him when he received his discharge, the pension he had was
scarcely worth mentioning, and, besides, it was very irregularly paid.
Therefore the father and daughter had tried to obtain some means of
earning money which could be kept secret from their fellow-citizens.
The "Captain" busied himself with tracing coats-of-arms, ornaments, and
inscriptions upon tin goblets, mugs, tankards, and dishes.  Barbara, when
she had finished her exercises in singing, washed fine laces.  This was
done entirely in secret.  A certain Frau Lerch, who when a girl had
served Barbara's dead mother as waiting maid, and now worked as a
dressmaker for the most aristocratic women in Ratisbon, privately
obtained this employment.  It was partly from affection for the young
lady whom she had tended when a child; but the largest portion of
Barbara's earnings returned to her, for she cut for the former all the
garments she needed to appear among her wealthy relatives and young
companions at dances, musical entertainments, banquets, and excursions to
the country.  True, Frau Lerch, who was a childless woman, worked very
cheaply for her, and, when she heard that Barbara had again been the
greatest beauty, it pleased her, and she saw her seed ripening.

What a customer the vain darling, who was very ambitious, promised
to become in the future as the wife of a rich aristocrat!  She would
undoubtedly be that.  There was absolute guarantee of it in her
marvellously beautiful head, with its abundant golden hair, her
magnificent figure, which--she could not help knowing it--
was unequalled in Ratisbon, and her nightingale voice.

Even old Blomberg, who kept aloof from the meetings of his distinguished
fellow-citizens, but, on the other hand, when his supply of money would
permit, enjoyed a drinking bout at the tavern with men of the sword all
the more, rejoiced to hear his daughter's rare gifts lauded.  The use of
the graver was thoroughly distasteful and unsuited to his rank; but even
the most laborious work gained a certain charm for his paternal heart
when, while wiping the perspiration from his brow, he thought of what his
diligence would allow him to devote to the adornment and instruction of
his daughter.

He preferred to be alone at home, and his reserved, eccentric nature had
caused his relatives to shun his house, which doubtless seemed to them
contemptibly small.

Barbara endured this cheerfully, for, though she had many relatives and
acquaintances among the companions of her own age, she possessed no
intimate friend.

As a child, Wolf had been her favourite playmate, but now visits from
her aunts and cousins would only have interrupted her secret work,
and disturbed her practice of singing.

When Wolf entered the house, the captain had just left the chapel.  He
did not notice the returning owner, for people must have made their way
into the quiet dwelling.  At least he had heard talking in the entry of
the second story, where usually it was even more noiseless than in his
lodgings in the third, since it was tenanted only by old Ursel, who was
now confined to her bed.

Wolf saw Barbara's father, whose height surpassed the stature of ordinary
men by a head, hurrying up the stairs.  It was a strange, and, for
children, certainly an alarming, sight--his left leg, which had been
broken by a bullet from a howitzer, had remained stiff, and, as he leaped
up three stairs at a time, he stretched his lean body so far forward that
it seemed as though he could not help losing his balance at the next
step.  He was in haste, for he thought that at last he could again acquit
himself manfully and cope with one or rather with two or three of the
burglars who, since the Duke of Bavaria had prohibited the conveyance of
provisions into Ratisbon as a punishment for its desertion of the
Catholic Church, had pursued their evil way in the city.

He first discovered with what very small ill-doers he had to deal when he
held the little lamp toward them, and, to his sincere vexation, found
that they were only little boys, who, moreover, were the children of
honest folk, and therefore could scarcely be genuine scoundrels.

Yet it could hardly be any laudable purpose which brought them at so late
an hour to the cantor house, and therefore, with the intention of turning
the serious attack into a mirthful one; he shouted in a harsh voice the
gibberish which he had compounded of scraps of all sorts of languages,
and whose effect upon unruly youngsters he had tested to his own
amusement.

As his rough "Larum gardum quantitere runze punze ke hi voi la" now
reached the little ones, the impression was far deeper than he had
intended, for the cellar man's youngest son, a little fellow six years
old, first shrieked aloud, and, when the terrible old man's long arms
barred his way, he began to cry piteously.

This troubled the kind-hearted giant, who was really fond of children,
and, ere the little lad was aware of it, the captain's free left hand
grasped the waistband of his little leather breeches and lifted him into
the air.

The swift act doubled the terror and anguish of the struggling little
wight.

As the strong man held him on his arm he fought bravely with his fat
little fists and his sturdy little legs.  But though in the unequal
conflict the boy pitilessly pulled the powerful monster's grayishy yellow
imperial and bushy mustache, and the captain recognised the child from
the Red Cock as one of the rascals who often shouted their nickname of
"Turkey gobbler" after his tall figure, conspicuous from its height and
costume, he strove with honest zeal to soothe the little one.

His deep voice, meanwhile, sounded so gentle and friendly, and his
promise to give him a piece of spice cake which he was bringing home to
Ursel to sweeten the disagreeable taste of her medicine produced so
soothing an influence, that little Hans at last looked up at him
trustingly and hopefully.

The cellar man's oldest son, who had violently assaulted the old
gentleman to release his little brother, now stood penitently before him,
and the landlord's boy related, in somewhat confused but perfectly
intelligible words, the object of their coming, and in whose name they
were bringing the roll and yonder little package to old Ursel.

The story sounded humble enough, but as soon as the captain had set
little Hans on his feet and bent curiously over the forerunners of the
dear friend, which had been placed on the little bench by the door, the
three boys dashed down the stairs, and the shrill voice of the landlord's
son shrieked from the lowest step one "Turkey gobbler" and "Pope's slave"
after another.

"Satan's imps!" shouted the old man; but the outer door, which banged
below him, showed that pursuit of the naughty mockers would result to his
disadvantage.  Then as, with an angry shake of the head, he drew back
from the banisters, he saw his daughter's playmate.

How dear the latter was to him, and how fully his aged heart had retained
its capacity of feeling, were proved by the reception which he gave the
returning knight.  The injury just inflicted seemed to have been entirely
forgotten.  With tears in his eyes and a voice tremulous with deep
emotion, he drew Wolf toward him, kissing first his head, which reached
only to his lips, then his cheeks and brow.  Then, with youthful
vivacity, he expressed his pleasure in seeing him again, and, without
permitting Wolf to speak, he repeatedly exclaimed:

"And my Wawerl, and Ursel in there!  There'll be a jubilee!"

When Wolf had at last succeeded in returning his old friend's greeting
and then expressed a wish, first of all, to clasp the faithful old maid-
servant's hand, the old gentleman's beaming face clouded, and he said,
sighing:

"What has not befallen us here since you went away, my dear Wolf!  My
path has been bordered with tombstones as poplars line the highway.  But
we will let the dead rest.  Nothing can now disturb their peace.  Old
Ursel, too, is longing for the end of life, and we ought not to grudge it
to her.  Only I dread the last hour, and still more the long eternity
which will follow it, for the good, patient woman entered the snare of
the Satanic Protestant doctrine, and will not hear of taking the holy
sacrament."

Wolf begged him to admit him at once, but Blomberg declared that, after
the attack of apoplexy which she had recently had, one thing and another
might happen if she should so unexpectedly see the man to whom her whole
heart clung.  Wolf would do better first to surprise the girl upstairs,
who had no suspicion of his presence.  He, Blomberg, must look after the
old woman now.  He would carry those things--he pointed to the parcels
which the boys had left--into the young nobleman's old room.  Ursel had
always kept it ready for his return, as though she expected him daily.
This suited Wolf, only he insisted upon having his own way about the
articles he had brought, and took them upstairs with him.

He would gladly have greeted the faithful nurse of his childhood at once,
yet it seemed like a fortunate dispensation that, through the old man's
delay below, his wish to have his first meeting with the woman he loved
without witnesses should be fulfilled.



CHAPTER IV.

In spite of the darkness and the zigzag turns of the stairs, Wolf was so
familiar with every corner of the old house that he did not even need to
grope his way with his hand.

He found the door of the Blomberg lodgings open.  Putting down in the
anteroom whatever might be in his way while greeting Barbara, and
carrying the roll of velvet under his arm and a little box in his pocket,
he entered the chamber which the old man called his artist workshop.  It
was in total darkness, but through the narrow open door in the middle of
the left wall one could see what was going on in Barbara's little bow-
windowed room.  This was quite brightly lighted, for she was ironing and
crimping ruffs for the neck, small lace handkerchiefs, and cuffs.

The light required for this purpose was diffused by a couple of tallow
candles and also by the coals which heated the irons.

As she bent over the glow, it shone into her beautiful face and upon her
magnificent fair hair, which rippled in luxuriant confusion about her
round head or fell in thick waves to her hips.  The red kerchief which
had confined it was lying on the floor.  Another had slipped from her
neck and was hanging on the corner of the ironing board.  Her stockings
had lost their fastenings and slipped down to her feet, revealing limbs
whose whiteness and beauty of form vied with the round arms which, after
holding the iron near her hot cheeks, she moved with eager diligence.

The image of a vivacious, early developed child had impressed itself upon
Wolf's mind.  Now he stood before a maiden in the full bloom of her
charms, whose superb symmetry of figure surprised and stirred him to the
depths of his nature.

In spite of her immature youth, he had cherished her in his inmost
heart.  youth, she confronted him as an entirely new and doubly desirable
creature.  The quiet longing which had mastered him was transformed into
passionate yearning, but he restrained it by exerting all the strength of
will peculiar to him, for a voice within cried out that he was too
insignificant for this marvellous maiden.

But when she dipped the tips of her fingers into the dainty little bowl,
which he had once given her for a birthday present, sprinkled the linen
with water, and meanwhile sang in fresh, clear notes the 'ut, re, me, fa,
sol, la' of Perissone Cambio's singing lesson, new wonder seized him.
What compass, what power, what melting sweetness the childish voice
against whose shrillness his foster-father and he himself had zealously
struggled now possessed!  Neither songstress nor member of the boy choir
whom he had heard in Italy or the Netherlands could boast of such bell-
like purity of tone!  He was a connoisseur, and yet it seemed as though
every tone which he heard had received the most thorough cultivation.

Who in Ratisbon could have been her teacher?  To whom did she owe this
masterly training?  As if by a miracle, he knew not whether from looking
or listening, he found a combination of notes which he had long been
seeking for the motet on which he was working.  When he had registered
it, and she sang a few passages from it, what an exquisite delight
awaited him!  But what should he do now?  Ought he to surprise her in
this way?  It would certainly have been proper to be first announced by
her father; but he could not bring himself even to stir a foot.  Beads of
perspiration stood upon his brow.  Panting for breath, he seized his
handkerchief to wipe it, and in doing so the roll of velvet which he had
held under his arm fell on the floor.

Wolf stooped, and, ere he had straightened himself again, he heard
Barbara call in a questioning tone, "Father?" and saw her put down the
iron and stand listening.

Then, willing or not, he was obliged to announce his presence, and, with
a timid "It is I, Wolf," he approached the little bow-windowed room and
hesitatingly crossed the threshold.

"Wolf, my tame Wolf," she repeated gaily, without being in the least
concerned about the condition of her dress.  "I knew that we should soon
meet again, for, just think of it!  I dreamed of you last night.  I was
entering a golden coach.  It was very high, so I put my foot on your
hand, and you lifted me in."

Then, without the least embarrassment, she held out her right hand, but
slapped his fingers smartly when he passionately endeavoured to raise it
to his lips.

Yet the blow was not unkindly meant, for even while he drew back she
voluntarily clasped both his hands, scrutinized him intently from head to
foot, and said calmly:

"Welcome to the old home, Sir Knight!"  Then, laughing gaily, she added:
"Why, such a thing is unprecedented!  Not a feature, not a look is unlike
what it used to be!  And yet you've been roaming five years in foreign
lands!  Changes take place--only look at me!--changes take place more
swiftly here in Ratisbon.  How you stare at me!  I thought so!  Out with
it!  Hasn't the feather-head of those days become quite a charming young
lady?"

Now Wolf would gladly have made as many flattering speeches as she could
desire, but his tongue refused to obey him.  The new meeting was too
unlike his expectation.  The sight of the self-conscious woman who, in
her wonderful beauty, stood leaning with folded arms on the ironing-table
stirred his heart and senses too strongly.

Standing motionless, he strove for words, while his eyes revealed plainly
enough the passionate rapture which agitated his soul.  Barbara perceived
what was passing in his thoughts, and also noticed how her dress had
become disarranged during her work.

Flushing slightly, she pursed up her lips as if to whistle, and with her
head thrust forward she blew into the air in his direction.  Then,
shaking her finger at him, she hastily sat down on the chest beside the
fireplace, wound the kerchief which had fallen off closer around her
neck, and, without the least embarrassment, pulled up her stockings.

"What does it matter!" she cried with a slight shrug of the shoulders.
"How often we two have waded together in water above our knees, like the
storks!  And yet such a thing turns the head of a youth who has returned
from foreign lands a made man, and closes his bearded lips!  Have you
given me even a single honest word of welcome?  That's the way with all
of you!  And you?  If you stand there already like a dumb sign-post, how
will it be when I thoroughly turn your head like all the rest with my
singing?"

"I've heard you already!" he answered quickly; "magical, bewildering,
magnificent!  Who in the world wrought this miracle with your voice?"

"There we have it!" she cried, laughing merrily and clapping her hands.
"To make you speak, one need only allude distantly to music.  That, too,
has remained unchanged, and I am glad, for I have much to ask you in
relation to it.  I can learn many things from you still.  But what have
you there in your hand?  Is it anything pretty from Brabant?" This
question flowed from her lips with coaxing tenderness, and she passed
her soft hand swiftly over his cheek.

How happy it made him!

Hitherto he had been the receiver--nay, an unfair taker--but now he was
to become the giver and she would be pleased with his present.

As if relieved from a nightmare, he now told her that he had gone from
Rome, through the Papal Legate Contarini, whom he had accompanied to
Italy as a secretary skilled in German and music--to the imperial court,
where he now enjoyed the special favour of the Regent of the Netherlands,
the widowed Queen of Hungary; that the royal lady, the sister of the
Emperor Charles, had chosen him to be director of her lessons in singing,
and also permitted him to write German letters for her; and what
assistance worthy of all gratitude he had enjoyed through the director
of the imperial musicians, Gombert, the composer and leader of the royal
orchestra, and his colleague Appenzelder, who directed the Queen's boy
choir.

At the mention of these names, Barbara listened intently.  She had sung
several of Gombert's compositions, and was familiar with one of
Appenzelder's works.

When she learned that both must have arrived in Ratisbon several hours
before, she anxiously asked Wolf if he would venture to make her
acquainted with these great masters.

Wolf assented with joyous eagerness, while Barbara's cheeks crimsoned
with pleasure at so valuable a promise.

Yet this subject speedily came to a close, for while talking Wolf had
ripped the linen cover in which the roll of velvet was sewed, and, as
soon as he unfolded the rich wine-coloured material, Barbara forgot
everything else, and burst into loud exclamations of pleasure and
admiration.  Then, when Wolf hastened out and with hurrying fingers
opened the little package he had brought and gave her the costly fur
which was to serve as trimming for the velvet jacket, she again laughed
gleefully, and, ere Wolf was aware of it, she had thrown her arms around
his neck and kissed him on both cheeks.

He submitted as if dazed, and did not even regain his senses sufficiently
to profit by what she had granted him with such unexpected liberality.
Nor did she allow him to speak as she loosed her arms from his neck, for,
with a bewitching light in her large, blue eyes, fairly overflowing with
grateful tenderness, she cried:

"You dear, dear, kind little Wolf!  To think that you should have
remembered me so generously!  And how rich you must be!  If I had become
so before you, I should have given myself a dress exactly like this.  Now
it's mine, just as though it had dropped from the sky.  Wine-coloured
Flanders velvet, with a border of dark-brown marten fur!  I'll parade in
it like the Duchess of Bavaria or rich Frau Fugger.  Holy Virgin! if that
isn't becoming to my golden hair!  Doesn't it just suit me, you little
Wolf and great spendthrift?  And when I wear it at the dance in the New
Scale or sing in it at the Convivium musicum, my Woller cousins and the
Thun girl will turn yellow with envy."

Wolf had only half listened to this outburst of delight, for he had
reserved until the last his best offering--a sky-blue turquoise breastpin
set with small diamonds.  It brought him enthusiastic thanks, and Barbara
even allowed him to fasten the magnificent ornament with his own fingers,
which moved slowly and clumsily enough.

Then she hurried into her chamber to bring the hand-mirror, and when in
an instant she returned and, at her bidding, he held the shining glass
before her, she patted his cheeks with their thin, fair, pointed beard,
and called him her faithful little Wolf, her clear, stupid pedant and
Satan in person, who would fill her mind with vanity.

Finally, she laid the piece of velvet over the back of a chair, let it
fall down to the floor, and threw the bands of fur upon it.  Every graver
word, every attempt to tell her what he expected from her, the girl cut
short with expressions of gratitude and pleasure until her father
returned from the suffering Ursel.

Then, radiant with joy, she showed the old man her new treasures, and the
father's admiration and expressions of gratitude were not far behind the
daughter's.

It seemed as though Fate had blessed the modest rooms in Red Cock Street
with its most precious treasures.

It might be either Wolf's return, the hopes for his daughter which were
associated with it in the crippled old warrior's heart, or the unexpected
costly gifts, to which Wolf had added for his old friend a Netherland
drinking vessel in the form of a silver ship, which had moved the old
gentleman so deeply, but at any rate he allowed himself to be tempted
into an act of extravagance, and, in an outburst of good spirits which he
had not felt for a long time, he promised Wolf to fetch from the cellar
one of the jugs of wine which he kept there for his daughter's wedding.

"Over this liquid we will open our hearts freely to each other, my boy,"
he said.  "The night is still long, and even at the Emperor's court there
is nothing better to be tasted.  My dead mother used to say that there
are always more good things in a poor family which was once rich than in
a rich one which was formerly poor."



CHAPTER V.

The captain limped out into the cellar, but Barbara was already standing
behind the table again, moving the irons.

"When I am rich," she exclaimed, in reply to Wolf, who asked her to stop
her work in this happy hour and share the delicious wine with him and her
father, "I shall shun such maid-servant's business.  But what else can be
done?  We have less money than we need to keep up our position, and that
must be remedied.  Besides, a neatly crimped ruff is necessary if a poor
girl like me is to stand beside the others in the singing rehearsal early
to-morrow morning.  Poor folks are alike everywhere, and, so long as I
can do no better--but luck will come to me, too, some day--this right
hand must be my maid.  Let it alone, or my iron will burn your fingers!"

This threat was very nearly fulfilled, for Wolf had caught her right hand
to hold it firmly while he at last compelled her to hear that his future
destiny depended upon her decision.

How much easier he had expected to find the wooing!  Yet how could it
be otherwise?  Every young man in Ratisbon was probably courting this
peerless creature.  No doubt she had already rebuffed many another as
sharply as she had just prevented him from seizing her hand.  If her
manner had grown more independent, she had learned to defend herself
cleverly.

He would first try to assail her heart with words, and they were at his
disposal in black and white.  He had placed in the little box with the
breastpin a piece of paper on which he had given expression to his
feelings in verse.  Hitherto it had remained unnoticed and fluttered to
the ground.  Picking it up, he introduced his suit, after a brief
explanation, by reading aloud the lines which he had composed in
Brussels to accompany his gifts to her.

It was an easy task, for he had painted rather than written his poetic
homage, with beautiful ornaments on the initial letters, and in the most
careful red and black Gothic characters, which looked like print.  So,
with a vivacity of intonation which harmonized with the extravagance of
the poetry, he began:

              "Queen of my heart wert thou in days of old,
               Beloved maid, in childhood's garb so plain;
               I bring thee velvet now, and silk and gold
               Though I am but a poor and simple swain
               That in robes worthy of thee may be seen
               My sovereign, of all thy sex the queen."

Barbara nodded pleasantly to him, saying: "Very pretty.  Perhaps you
might arrange your little verse in a duo, but how you must have taxed
your imagination, you poor fellow, to transform the flighty good-for-
nothing whom you left five years ago into a brilliant queen!"

"Because, even at that time," he ardently exclaimed.  "I had placed you
on the throne of my heart, because the bud already promised--Yet no!  In
those days I could not suspect that it would unfold into so marvellous a
rose.  You stand before me now more glorious than I beheld you in the
most radiant of all my dreams, and therefore the longing to possess you,
which I could never relinquish, will make me appear almost insolently
bold.  But it must be risked, and if you will fulfil the most ardent
desire of a faithful heart--"

"Gently, my little Wolf, gently," she interposed soothingly.  "If I am
right, you mounted our narrow stairs to seek a wife and, when my father
returns, you will ask for my hand."

"That I will," the young knight declared with eager positiveness.  "Your
'Yes' or 'No,' Wawerl, is to me the decree of Fate, to which even the
gods submit without opposition."

"Indeed?" she answered, uttering the word slowly, with downcast eyes.
Then suddenly drawing herself to her full height, she added with a graver
manner than he had ever seen her wear: "It is fortunate that I have
learned the stories of the gods which are so popular in the Netherlands.
If any one else should come to me with such pretences, I would scarcely
believe that he had honest intentions.  You are in earnest, Wolf, and
wish to make me your wife.  But 'Yes' and 'No' can not be spoken as
quickly as you probably imagine.  You were always a good, faithful
fellow, and I am sincerely attached to you.  But have I even the
slightest knowledge of what you obtained abroad or what awaits you here?"

"Wawerl!"  he  interrupted  reproachfully.  "Would I as an honest man
seek your hand if I had not made money enough to support a wife whose
expectations were not too extravagant?  You can not reasonably doubt
that, and now, when the most sacred of bonds is in question, it ought--"

"It ought, you think, to satisfy me?"  she interrupted with confident
superiority.  "But one of two things must follow this sacred bond-
happiness or misery in the earthly life which is entered from the church
steps.  I am tired of the miserable starving and struggling, my dear
Wolf.  Marriage must at least rid me of these gloomy spectres.  My father
will not let you leave soon the good wine he allows himself and you to
enjoy--you know that.  Tell him how you are situated at the court, and
what prospects, you have here in Ratisbon or elsewhere; for instance,
I would gladly go to the magnificent Netherlands with my husband.  Inform
yourself better, too, of the amount of your inheritance.  The old man
will take me into his confidence early to-morrow morning.  But I will
confess this to you now: The most welcome husband to me would be a
zealous and skilful disciple of music, and I know that wish will be
fulfilled with you.  If, perhaps, you are already what I call a
successful man, we will see.  But--I have learned that--no happiness will
thrive on bread and water, and even a modest competence, as it is called,
won't do for me."

"But Wawerl," he interrupted dejectedly, "what could be better than true,
loyal love?  Just hear what I was going to tell you, and have not yet
reached."

But Barbara would not listen, cutting his explanation short with the
words:

"All that is written as distinctly on the tender swain's face as if
I had it before me in black letter, but unfortunately it has as little
power to move me to reckless haste as the angry visage into which your
affectionate one is now transformed.  The Scripture teaches us to prove
before we retain.  Yet if, on this account, you take me for a woman whose
heart and hand can be bought for gold, you are mistaken.  Worthy Peter
Schlumperger is constantly courting me.  And I?  I have asked him to
wait, although he is perhaps the richest man in the city.  I might have
Bernard Crafft, too, at any time, but he, perhaps, is as much too young
as Herr Peter is too old, yet, on the other hand, he owns the Golden
Cross, and, besides, has inherited a great deal of money and a
flourishing business.  I keep both at a distance, and I did the same--
only more rigidly--last year when the Count Palatine von Simmern made me
proposals which would have rendered me a rich woman, but only aroused my
indignation.  I dealt more indulgently with the Ratisbon men, but I
certainly shall take neither of them, for they care more for the wine in
the taproom than the most exquisite pleasures which music offers, and,
besides, they are foes of our holy faith, and Herr Schlumperger is even
one of those who most zealously favour the heretical innovations."

Here she hesitated and her eyes met his with distrustful keenness as she
asked in an altered tone:

"And you?  Have not you returned to the false doctrines with which your
boyish head was bewildered in the school of poetry?"

"I confided to you then," he exclaimed, deeply hurt, "the solemn vow I
made to my poor mother ere she closed her eyes in death."

"Then that obstacle is removed," Barbara answered in a more gentle tone,
"but I will not take back even a single word of what I have said about
other matters.  I am not like the rest of the girls.  My father--Holy
Virgin!--how much too late he was born!  Among the Crusaders this
fearless hero, whom the pepper-bags here jeer at as a 'Turkey gobbler,'
would have been sure of every honour.  How ill-suited he is for any
mercantile business, on the other hand, he has unfortunately proved.
Wherever he attempted anything, disappointment followed disappointment.
To fight in Tunis against the crescent, he let our flourishing lumber
trade go to ruin!  And my mother!  How young I was when her dead body was
borne out of the house, yet I can still see the haughty woman--whose
image I am said to be--in her trailing velvet robe, with plumes waving
amid the curls arranged in a towering mass upon her head.  She was
dressed in that way when the men came to sell our house in the Kramgasse
at auction.  She must have been one of the women under whose management,
as a matter of course, the household is neglected."

"How can you talk so about your own mother?" Wolf interrupted in a
somewhat reproachful tone.

"Because we are not here to flatter the dead or to speak falsely to
each other, but to understand how matters are between us," she answered
gravely.  "How you are constituted is best known to yourself, but it
seems to me that while far away you have formed a totally false opinion
of me, whom you placed upon the throne of your heart, and I wish to
correct it, that you may not plunge into misfortune like a deluded
simpleton and drag me with you.  Where, as in my case, so many things
are different from what the good and humble would desire them to be,
it is not very pleasant to open one's whole heart to another, and there
is no one else in the world for whom I would do it.  Perhaps I shall
not succeed at all, for often enough I am incomprehensible to myself.
I shall understand myself most speedily if I bring before my mind my
father's and my mother's nature, and recall the ancient saying that young
birds sing like the old ones.  My father--I love him in spite of all his
eccentricities and weaknesses.  Dear me! he needs me so much, and would
be miserable without me.  Though he is a head taller than you, he has
remained a child."

"But a good, kind-hearted one!" Wolf interrupted with warm affection.

"Of course," Barbara eagerly responded; "and if I have inherited from him
anything which is ill-suited to me, it is the fearless courage which does
not beseem us women.  We progress much farther if we hold back timidly.
Therefore, often as it impels me to resistance, I yield unless it is too
strong for me.  Besides, but for your interruption, I should have said
nothing about my father.  What concerns us I inherited from my mother,
and, as I mean kindly toward you, this very heritage compels me to warn
you against marrying me if you are unable to support me so that I can
make a good appearance among Ratisbon wives.  Moreover, poor church mouse
though I am, I sometimes give them one thing and another to guess, and
I haven't far to travel to learn what envy is.  In my present position,
however, compassion is far more difficult to bear than ill-will.  But I
by no means keep out of the way on that account.  I must be seen and
heard if I am to be happy, and I shall probably succeed so long as my
voice retains the melting tone which is now peculiar to it.  Should
anything destroy that, there will be a change.  Then--I know this in
advance--I shall tread in the footsteps of my mother, who had no means
of satisfying her longing for admiration except her pretty face, her
beautiful figure, and the finery which she stole from the poverty of her
husband, and her only child.  How you are staring at me again!  But I can
not forget that now; for, had it not been so, we should still be living
in our own house as a distinguished family of knightly rank, and I should
have no need to spend my best hours in secretly washing laces for others-
-yes, for others, Wolf--to gain a wretched sum of which even my father
must be ignorant.  You do not know how we are obliged to economize, and
yet I can only praise the pride of my father, who induced me to return
the gifts which the Council sends to the house by the town clerk when I
sing in the Convivium musicum.  But what a pleasure it is to show the
bloated fellow the door when he pulls out the linen purse!  True, many
things must be sacrificed to do it, and how hard that often
is can not be described.  I would not bear it long.  But, if I were your
wife and you had only property enough for a modest competence, you would
scarcely fare better, through my fault, than my poor father.  That would
surely be the result"--she raised her voice in passionate eagerness as
she spoke:

"I know myself.  As for the immediate future, I feel that the ever-
increasing longing for better days and the rank which is my due will kill
me if I do not satisfy it speedily.  I shall never be content with any
half-way position, and I fear you can not offer me more.  Talk with my
father, and think of it during the night.  Were I in your place, I would
at once resign the wish to win a person like me, for if you really love
me as ardently as it seems, you will receive in exchange only a lukewarm
liking for your person and a warm interest in what you can accomplish;
but in other respects, far worse than nothing--peril after peril.  But
if you will be reasonable and give up your suit, I shall not blame you
a moment.  How bewildered you still stare at me!  But there comes father,
and I must finish my work before the irons get cold."

Wolf gazed after her speechlessly, while she withdrew behind the table
as quietly as if they had been discussing the most commonplace things.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

A live dog is better than a dead king
Always more good things in a poor family which was once rich
Harder it is to win a thing the higher its value becomes
No happiness will thrive on bread and water





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