Yes, that would happen! With cruel self-torture she dwelt upon the terrible dread, for she thought she had noticed that the best success often followed when she had expected the worst result. Fran Lerch perceived what was passing in her mind, and instilled courage until she had finished her work and held up the mirror before Barbara.
The girl, whether she desired to do so or not, could not help looking in. She did it reluctantly, and, after hastily assuring herself that she was presentable, she turned the glittering disk away and would not glance at it again.
She feared that the contemplation of her own image might disturb her; she wished to think only of the worthy execution of her task, and the shorter time she kept the Emperor waiting the less she need fear having an ill-humoured listener.
So she hurriedly ejaculated a few words of gratitude to the old attendant and seized the kerchief for her head, which she had taken to Prufening with her; but the dressmaker wound around her hair a costly lace veil which she had ready for a customer.
“The valuable article may be lost,” she thought. “But if, sooner or later, something happens which my lambkin, who thinks only of her sweet babble, does not dream, it will return to me with interest. Besides, she must see what maternal affection I feel for her.” Then, with tender caution, she kissed the girl’s glowing cheeks, and the blessing with which she at last dismissed her sounded devout and loving enough.
Wolf had not waited long; it was just striking eleven when Barbara met him at the door talking with Herr Lerch, the owner of the house.
Before leaving the Grieb, she again glanced into the chapel in the courtyard dedicated to Saint Dorothea, and uttered a swift though silent prayer for good success, and that her singing might have a deep influence upon the august hearer.
Meanwhile she scarcely heeded what her friend was saying, and, while walking at his side the short distance through a part of Red Cock Street and across the Haidplatz, he had no words from her lips except the request that he would tell her father of the great honour awaiting her.
Wolf, too, had imposed silence upon himself; it was necessary for the singer, on the eve of this important performance, to refrain from talking in the night air.
Baron Malfalconnet possessed the gift of lending Time wings and using the simplest incident as the foundation for an entertaining story.
He knew that his Majesty did not like waiting, and the quarter of an hour which Barbara had mentioned might easily become a longer period. So he adorned the description of his ride as an envoy most generously with many partially invented details. Wolf, Herr Peter Schlumperger, Frau Kastenmayr, his estimable sister, and the party of Ratisbon excursionists, upon whom he had scarcely bestowed a passing glance, all played a large and by no means enviable part.