The young officer’s heart throbbed faster; but as they turned into Red Cock Street she asked the question:
“You are going from here to Brussels, are you not?”
“To Brussels,” he repeated, scarcely able to control his voice.
She raised her large eyes to him, and, after a hard struggle, the words escaped her lips:
“I learned in Landshut, and it was confirmed by my father’s letter, that you are aware of what I am accused, and that you know—I committed the sin with which they charge me.”
In the very same place where, on an evening never to be forgotten, he had received the first sharp rebuff from Barbara, she now confessed her guilt to him—he doubtless noticed it. It must have seemed like a sign from heaven that it was here she voluntarily approached him, nay, as it were, offered herself to him. But he loved her, and he would have deemed it unchivalrous to let her feel now that their relation to one another had changed. So he only exclaimed with joyous confidence:
“And yet, Barbara, I trustfully place happiness and honour in your beloved hands. You have long been clear to me, but now for the first time I believe confidently and firmly that I have found in you the very wife for me. The bitter trial imposed upon you—I knew it in Landshut— bowed your unduly obstinate nature, and if you only knew how well your modest manner becomes you! So I entreat permission to accompany you home.”
Barbara nodded assent, and when he had mounted the steep staircase of the house before her he stopped in front of the narrow door, and a proud sense of satisfaction came over him at the thought that the vow which he had made in this spot was now fulfilled.
Her father had failed to bend this refractory, wonderfully beautiful iron; he had hoped to try with better fortune, but Fate had anticipated him, and he was grateful.
Full of blossoming hopes, he now asked, with newly awakened confidence, whether she would permit him to cross her threshold as a suitor and become his dear and ardently worshipped wife, and the low “Yes” which he received in response made him happy.
A few days after he married her, and journeyed with her on horseback to the Netherlands.
On the way tidings of the battle of Muhlberg reached them. The Emperor Charles had utterly routed the Protestants. He himself announced his great victory in the words, “I came, I saw, and God conquered.”
When Pyramus told the news to his young wife, she answered quietly, “Who could resist the mighty monarch!”
In Brussels she learned that the Emperor had taken the Elector of Saxony captive on the battlefield, but the Landgrave of Hesse had been betrayed into his power by a stratagem which the Protestants branded as base treachery, and used to fill all Germany with the bitterest hatred against him; but here Barbara’s wrath flamed forth, and she upbraided the slanderous heretics. It angered her to have the great sovereign denied his due reverence in her own home; but secretly she believed in the breach of faith.