Now Barbara fancied that again—she knew not for what hundredth time—the Frieslander’s exclamation, “Debts! debts!” rang in her ears, and at the same time she thought of the boy in Spain who had here been disinherited, and must be hidden in a monastery that the other son of the same father, the diminutive upstart Philip, puffed up with arrogance, might sleep more quietly. For one son the unjust man whom she loved was ready to die before his last hour came, in order to give him all that he possessed; for the other he could find nothing save a monk’s cowl. Instead of the yearning for John, of which Wolf had spoken and she, blind fool, believed, he thought of him with petty fears of the claims by which he might injure his favoured brother. No warm impulse of paternal tenderness stirred the breast of the man whose heart was hardened, who understood how to divest himself of the warmest love as he now cast aside the crown and the purple of royalty.
These torturing thoughts so powerfully affected Barbara that she only half heard what Hannibal was saying about the Emperor’s admonition to his son to hold fast to justice, law, and the Catholic Church. But when Granvelle’s faithful follower, in an agitated tone, went on to relate how Charles had besought the forgiveness of Providence for all the sins and errors which he had committed, and added that he would remember all who had rendered him happy by their love and obedience in every prayer which he addressed to the Being to whom the remnant of his life should be devoted, the ex-singer’s breath came quicker, her small hands clinched, and the question whether she had failed in love and obedience before he basely cast her off forced itself upon her mind, and with it the other, whether he would also include in his prayers her whom he had ill-treated and mortally insulted.
These thoughts lent her features so gloomy an expression that it would have offended the Emperor Charles’s ardent admirer if he had noticed it. But the scene which, with tears in his eyes, he now described absorbed his attention so completely that he forgot everything around him and, as it were, gazed into his own soul while picturing to himself and his listener how the monarch, with a pallid, ashen countenance, had sunk back upon his throne and wept like a child.
At this spectacle the whole assembly, even the sternest old general, had been overwhelmed by deep emotion, and the spacious hall echoed with the sobs and groans of graybeards, middle-aged men and youths, warriors and statesmen.
Here the young man’s voice failed and, weeping, with unfeigned emotion he covered his agitated face with his handkerchief.
When he regained his composure he saw, with a shade of disappointment, that Barbara’s eyes had remained dry during the description of an event in which he himself and so many stronger men had shed burning tears.
Yet, when Barbara was again alone she could not drive from her mind the image of her broken-down, weeping lover. Doubtless she often felt moved to think of him with deep pity; but she soon remembered the conversation to which she had listened in the apartments of the Bishop of Arras, and her belief in the genuineness of those tears vanished.