She could have inflicted various punishments upon herself for her precipitate yielding to a hastily awakened sympathy, for it would surely anger the Emperor if he learned how carelessly she had treated his first costly gift.
Perhaps some hint of its sale had already reached his ears, for, although he had made no opposition to her apology, he afterward remained taciturn and irritable.
Every subsequent interview with her lover was terribly shadowed by the dread that he might think of the unlucky ornament again.
Yet, on this occasion also, fear prevented the brave girl from confessing the whole truth.
On St. Desiderius’s Day—[May 23rd]—the Emperor again missed the star, and, as it was in the Golden Cross and the heat was great, Barbara replied that her dress was too thin for the heavy ornament. But the inquiry had made her fear of additional questions so great that she rejoiced over the news that her lover would not visit her the next day.
On the day before yesterday Christoph Madrucci, the Cardinal of Trent, his warlike brother Hildebrand, and the Count of Arco had arrived, bringing news from the Council; but on the morrow Duke Maurice of Saxony was expected, and the most important negotiations were to be carried on not only with him, but also with the former, each individual being dealt with singly and at different hours.
In the evening the welcome guest was to be entertained by music and, if agreeable to Barbara, by singing also. On the twenty-fifth the city had decided to give a May festival under the lindens in honour of the duke. The Emperor and the whole court were of course invited.
Barbara then acknowledged that she was fond of such magnificent exhibitions, and begged Charles to allow her to attend the festival with the marquise.
The answer was an assent, but the Emperor gave it after some delay, and with the remark that he could devote little time to her, and expected that she would subject herself to some restraint.
True, the painful surprise which her features expressed vividly enough led him to add the apology that, on account of the presence of the two cardinals—for one had come from Augsburg—he would be compelled to deny himself the pleasure of showing her anything more than courteous consideration in public; but she could not succeed in conquering the mortification which, besides the grief of disappointment, had taken possession of her sensitive soul.
Charles probably perceived, by the alternate flushing and paling of her cheeks, what was passing in her thoughts, and would gladly have soothed her; but he refrained, and forced himself to be content with the few conciliatory words which he had already addressed to her.
Great events were impending. If he decided upon war, nothing, not even love, could be permitted to encroach too heavily upon his time and strength; but Barbara and the demands which her love made upon him would surely do this if he did not early impose moderation upon her and himself.