It was only necessary to hold her impetuous temper in check, and profit by the jealousy which had now been aroused in Charles’s mind. Hitherto she had always obeyed hasty impulses. Why should not she, too, succeed in accomplishing a well-considered plan? With the torturing emotions of failure, mortification, desertion, remorse, and yearning for forgiveness, now blended the hope of yet bringing to a successful conclusion the hazardous enterprise which she had already given up as hopeless, and, while walking on, her brain toiled diligently over plans for the campaign which would compel the great general to return with twofold devotion the love of which he had deprived her.
So, in the intense darkness, she followed the light which the torches cast upon the uneven path. At first she had taken up the train of her dress; now it was sweeping the dusty road.
What did she care for the magnificent robe if she regained Charles’s love? Of what use would it be if she had lost it, lost it forever?
Before the litters reached the little castle a gust of wind rose, driving large drops of rain, straw, and withered leaves-Barbara could not imagine whence they came in the month of May—into her face. She was obliged to struggle against these harbingers of the coming tempest, and her heart grew lighter during the conflict. She was not born to endure, but to contend.
The scene of the festivities emptied rapidly. The duke and Granvelle drove back to the city in the minister’s carriage. Malfalconnet and Quijada, in spite of the gathering storm, went home on foot.
“What a festival!” said Don Luis scornfully.
“In former days such things presented a more superb spectacle even here. But now! No procession, no scarlet save on the cardinals, no golden cross, no venerable priest’s head on the whole pleasure ground, and, moreover, neither consecration nor the pious exhortation to remember Heaven, whence comes the joy in which the crowd is rejoicing.”
“I, too, missed something here,” cried the baron eagerly, “and now I learn through you what it is.”
“Will not the heretics themselves gradually feel that they are robbing the pasty of faith of its truffles—what am I saying?—of its salt? May their dry black bread choke them! The only thing that gave the unseasoned meal a certain charm was the capitally performed gagliarde.
“Which angered his Majesty more deeply than you imagine,” replied Don Luis. “The singer’s days are probably numbered. It is a pity! She was wonderfully successful in subduing the spirits of melancholy.”
“The war, on which we can now depend, will do that equally well, if not better,” interrupted the baron. “Within a short time I, too, have lost all admiration for this fair one. Cold-hearted and arrogant. Capable of the utmost extremes when her hot blood urges her on. Unpopular with the people to whom she belongs, and, in spite of her bold courage, surprisingly afraid of the Holy Inquisition. Here, among the heretics, that gives cause for thought.”