“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