After this conversation the two men who, in different positions, stood nearest to the Emperor Charles, placed no obstacle in Barbara’s way.
The third—the Bishop of Arras—also showed a friendly spirit toward the Emperor’s love affair. True, he had not been taken into his confidence, but he rarely failed to be present when Barbara sang with the boy choir, or alone, in the Golden Cross, before the monarch or distinguished guests.
Charles summoned her there almost daily, and always at different hours.
This was done to strengthen the courtiers and the citizens of Ratisbon in the belief that Barbara owed his favour solely to her singing.
Granvelle, who appreciated and was interested in music as well as in painting and sculpture, found real pleasure in listening to Barbara, yet while doing so he did not forget that she might be of service to him. If she only remained on good terms with him she would, he was sure of that, whether willing or not, be used as his tool.
Spite of his nine-and-twenty years, he forbade himself to cherish any other wishes, because he would have regarded it treachery to the royal master whom he served with faithful devotion. But, as he accepted great gifts without ever allowing himself to be tempted to treason or forgetfulness of duty, so he did not reject little tokens of friendliness from Barbara, and of these she showed no lack. The young Bishop of Arras was also an extremely fine-looking man, whose clever brain and bright, penetrating glance harmonized with his great intellect and his position. Wolf had already told her how much the monarch regarded the opinion of this counsellor.
The fourth person whose good will had been represented to her as valuable was the almoner, Pedro de Soto; but he, who usually understood how to pay homage to beautiful women in the most delicate manner, kept rigidly aloof.
True, he had placed no obstacle in the way of the late kindling of the heart of his imperial master, but since his servant’s report, from which it appeared that Barbara was on friendly terms with heretics, and therefore cherished but a lukewarm devotion to her own faith, she was no longer the same to him. In Spain this would have been enough to deliver her to the Holy Inquisition. Here, however, matters were different. Everywhere he saw the lambs associating with the wolves, and the larger number of the relatives of the Emperor’s love had become converts to heresy. Therefore indulgence was demanded, and De Soto would have gladly been convinced of Barbara’s orthodoxy under such difficult circumstances. But if it proved that the girl not only associated with heretics, but inclined to their error, then gentle inaction must be transformed into inexorable sternness, even though the rejuvenating power which she exerted upon the monarch were tenfold stronger than it doubtless was; for what danger might threaten the Emperor and Christianity from the bewitching woman who seemed to love Charles, if she undertook to influence him in favour of the new doctrines, which, in the eyes of every earnest Dominican, the Emperor treated far too leniently!