In granting Barbara permission to see her child often, Frau Traut transgressed an explicit command of the Emperor and, to prevent the evil consequences which her sympathy might entail, she allowed the mother to rejoice in the sight of her little son only once a month, and then always for a short time.
During these interviews she was strictly forbidden to bestow even the smallest gift upon the boy.
To-day John had voluntarily approached the stranger to whom he owed his life, but whose passionate caresses at their first meeting had frightened him, to show her the little wooden horse that Adrian had just given him. This had made her happy, and on the way home the memory of her hidden treasure more than once brought a joyous smile to her lips.
At home she first sought her children. Her husband, who had now been appointed mustering officer, was on one of the journeys required by the service, which rarely permitted him to remain long in his own house.
Barbara did not miss him; nay, she was happiest during his absence.
After glancing into the nursery, she retired to her quiet chamber, where her harp stood and the lutes hung which often for hours supplied the place of her lost voice, and sat down at her spinning wheel.
She turned it thoughtfully, but the thread broke, and her hands fell into her lap. Her mind had again found the way to the house in the park and to her John, her own, wonderful, imperial child, and lingered there until from the next room the cry of an infant was heard and a woman’s voice singing it to sleep. Frau Lamperi, who had made herself a part of the little household, and beheld in its master the incarnation of every manly virtue, was lulling the baby to rest. Beside it slept another child, a boy two years old. Both were hers, yet, though the infant raised its voice still louder, she remained at the spinning wheel, dreaming on.
In this way, and while playing on the harp and the lutes, her solitude was best endured. Her husband’s journeys often led him through the whole Netherlands and the valley of the Rhine as far as Strasbourg and Basle, and her father had returned to Ratisbon.
She had found no new friends in Brussels, and had not endeavoured to gain any.
Loneliness, which she had dreaded in the heyday of her early youth, no longer alarmed her, for quiet reveries and dreams led her back to the time when life had been beautiful, when she had enjoyed the love of the greatest of mortals, and art had given her existence an exquisite consecration.
With the loss of her voice—she was now aware of it—many of the best things in her life had also ceased to exist. Her singing might perhaps have lured back her inconstant lover, and had she come to Brussels possessing the mastery of her voice which was hers during that happy time in May, her life would have assumed a totally different form.
Gombert, who had induced her to move hither, had urged her with the best intentions during their drive to Landshut to change her residence. When he did so, however, Barbara was still connected with the Emperor, and he was animated by the hope that the trouble in her throat would be temporary.