No images of the Virgin and the saints, no crucifix nor anything else that elevates a human soul in the whole dwelling, but the portrait of the anti-Christ, the arch-heretic Luther, in the best place in the room! However he turned his eyes away, the fat heretic face had forced him to look at it. Meanwhile he had felt as if the devil himself was already stretching out his arm from the ample sleeve to seize him by the collar.
“B-r-r-r!” he repeated, and hurried off to Saint Leonhard’s chapel in the Golden Cross, where he sprinkled himself eagerly with holy water, and then sought Master Adrian. But the valet was with the Emperor, and so he went to his master and told him where he had unexpectedly wandered.
The latter lent a willing ear and shook his sagacious head indignantly when he learned that, besides Sir Wolf Hartschwert, Cassian had also met “the singer” at the house of the syndic, the soul of the evangelical movement in Ratisbon.
Meanwhile Barbara was taking leave of the friend of her youth at the Hiltner house.
The others, with the exception of the deaf old dame, had considerately left the room.
Wolf felt it gratefully, for a dark suspicion, which Barbara’s information of her father’s long ride as a messenger only confirmed, weighed heavily upon his heart.
The man for whose sake the woman he loved had given him up must be Baron Malfalconnet.
It was well known how recklessly this gay, gallant noble trifled with women’s hearts, and he had mentioned Barbara in his presence in a way that justified the conjecture.
Therefore, ere Wolf clasped her hand, he told her the suspicions which filled him with anxiety about her.
But he was soon to discover the baselessness of this fear.
Whatever the truthful girl so positively and solemnly denied must be far from her thoughts, and he now clasped her right hand in both his.
The heavy anxiety that his “queen” had fallen into the baron’s hands as a toy had been removed. The thought of the Emperor Charles was as far removed from his mind as heaven from earth, though Barbara emphasized the fact that the man whom she loved would be sure of his respect. She also, with deep emotion, assured him that she wished him the best and most beautiful life, and would always retain her friendship for him whatever Fate might have in store for both.
The words sounded so truthful and loyal that Wolf’s heart was moved to its inmost depths, and he now, in his turn, assured her that he would never forget her, and would treasure her image in his heart’s core to the end. True, he must endure the keenest suffering for her sake, but he also owed her the greatest happiness life had granted him.
The eyes of both were dim, but when he began to talk in the old pathetic way of the magic of love, which would at last bring together those whom Heaven destined for one another, she tore herself away, hastily begged him to say farewell to Fran Hiltner for her, and then went into the hall; but here Martina overtook the departing guest, threw herself impetuously into her arms, and whispered the question whether she would permit her to pay her a visit at Prebrunn when she was with her old marquise, she had so much, so very much, to tell her.