“Dressed as my page, he rode with me to Jarandilla to meet his Majesty. He was to present to the imperial master, of whose near relationship he had no idea, a little basket filled with beautiful oranges from our garden in Villagarcia, which you know.
“The young horseman, who understands how to wheel his steed, swung himself from the saddle close beside his Majesty, bent the knee with noble grace, raised his little plumed hat, and, pressing his left hand upon his heart, presented the little gift to his sovereign and master. As the weather was mild, the latter sat in an open sedan chair, and when he saw Geronimo he scanned him with the keen glance of the ruler, and then looked inquiringly at my husband. Don Luis nodded the answer which he desired to receive, and a bright smile flitted over his emaciated, corpselike features. Then he accepted the oranges, stroked his son’s curls, addressed a few questions to him, which he answered modestly but aptly, and then called to my husband, ‘This boy must remain near me.’
“Oh, what pleasure all this gave me! Now Geronimo goes in and out of his Majesty’s apartments freely, and my reason for writing this letter is an incident I happened to witness, and which will please you, Adrian, and your good wife, as it filled my heart with fervent gratitude. So listen: When the Emperor meets Geronimo in the presence of strangers, he seems to take neither more nor less notice of him than of the other pages who come to San Yuste. Only he often calls him, asks a question, or gives him some trivial commission. Others would scarcely notice it, but I see the brightening of his eyes as he does so.
“Recently I looked through the open door which leads from his Majesty’s work-room into the garden, and what did the Virgin permit me to behold?— Geronimo, who was alone with the Emperor, picked up a sheet of paper that had fluttered to the ground and handed it to him. Then the Emperor Charles suddenly raised his poor hands oh, how they are disfigured by the gout!—laid them on the boy’s temples, drew his head nearer, and kissed his brow and eyes! Charles V, the fugitive from the world, the man crushed by sorrow and disappointment, did that! This kiss—Don Luis believes it also—sealed the son’s acceptance into his father’s heart.”
Here Frau Traut let the sheet fall. Her voice had failed during the last sentences; now she exclaimed amid her tears, “The Emperor’s kiss!” and her husband, no less deeply stirred by emotion, cried, “The Emperor Charles—no one knows as well as I what that means—the Emperor Charles, whose heart compels him to kiss some one.”
Here Barbara rose with flushed cheeks, panting for breath.
She felt as if she must cry aloud to these good people: “What do you know about my lover’s kiss? I, I alone, not you, you poor, good man, could tell you. Insignificant and wretched as I may be, no woman on earth can boast of prouder memories, and now that he has also kissed his child and mine, everything is forgiven him.”