Then, drawing a long breath, she gave the companion of her childhood a grateful glance, and said to Appenzelder:
“Dispose of my powers as you deem best,” adding, after a brief pause, “Of course, with my father’s consent.”
Appenzelder, as if rescued, shook her hand again, this time with so strong a pressure that it hurt her. Yet her blue eyes sparkled as brightly as if her soul no longer had room for pain or sorrow. After Barbara had made various arrangements with the choir leader, it seemed to her as though the sunny, blissful spring, which her song had just celebrated so exquisitely, had also made its joyous entry into the narrow domain of her life.
On the way home she thanked the friend who accompanied her with the affectionate warmth of the days of her childhood, nay, even more eagerly and tenderly; and when, on reaching the second story of the cantor house, he took leave of her, she kissed his cheek, unasked, calling down the stairs as she ran up:
“There is your reward! But, in return, you will accompany me first to the rehearsal with the singing boys, and then—if you had not arranged it yourself you would never believe it—go to the Golden Cross, to the Emperor Charles.”
The Emperor’s table was laid in one of the lower rooms of the Golden Cross. The orchestra and the boy choir had been stationed in Saint Leonhard’s chapel. A wide door led from the consecrated chamber, spanned by a vaulted roof, into the dining-room. When it was opened, the music and singing would pour in a full flood to those seated around the board.
Shortly before midnight everything in kitchen and cellar was ready for the royal couple. The wax candles and lamps were already lighted when Queen Mary prepared to bring her imperial brother to the surprise which she had planned, and whose influence she eagerly anticipated.
The Emperor had received the last report half an hour before, and then commissioned his physician, who had again warned him against the excess of work, to protect him from interruption—he desired to have an hour alone.
Dr. Mathys had fulfilled this order with the utmost strictness. Even the English ambassador was dismissed. The members of the royal household and the nobles who during their stay in Ratisbon crowded around the royal brother and sister, and even at this late hour filled the rooms and corridors of the spacious building with busy life, had been commanded to step lightly and keep silent.
The lord chamberlain, Count Heinrich of Nassau, saw that nothing was stirring near the apartment of his imperial master, and the stewards, Quijada and Malfalconnet, aided him. But they could not prevent the barking of Queen Mary’s hunting dogs, and when their royal mistress followed them to accompany her illustrious brother to the dining-hall, Malfalconnet ventured to remark that the lion, when he retires to solitude, sometimes values rest more than the presence of even the most beloved and adorable member of his noble race; but the regent quickly retorted that she had not yet reached lion hunting, but she knew that even the king of beasts possessed a stomach, and would be glad to have rest seasoned with dainty food.