Therefore while Erasmus, with burning head and great excitement, was still urging his friend to come in, Wolf unexpectedly bade him a hasty and resolute farewell.
Wolf left the Hiltner house behind him with the feeling that he had upheld the cause of his Church against the learned opponent to the best of his ability, and had not been defeated. Yet he was not entirely satisfied. In former years he had read the Hutten dialogues, and, though he disapproved of their assaults upon the Holy Father in Rome, he had warmly sympathized with the fiery knight’s love for his native land.
Far as, at the court of Charles, the German ranked below the Netherlander, the Spaniard, and the Italian, Wolf was proud of being a German, and it vexed him that he had not at least made the attempt to repel the theologian’s charge that the Catholic, to whom the authority of Rome was the highest, would be inferior to the Protestant in patriotism.
But he would have succeeded no better in convincing Erasmus than the learned theologians who, at the Emperor’s instance, had held an earnest religious discussion in Ratisbon a short time before, had succeeded in arriving at even a remote understanding.
As he reached the Haidplatz new questions of closer interest were casting these of supreme importance into the shade.
He was to enter his home directly, and then the woman whom he loved would rest above him, and alone, unwatched, and unguarded, perhaps dream of another.
Who was the man for whose sake she withdrew from him the heart to whose possession he had the best and at any rate the oldest right?
Certainly not Baron Malfalconnet.
Neither could he believe it to be Peter Schlumperger or young Crafft.
Yet perhaps the fortunate man belonged to the court. If that was the case, how easy would the game now be made for him with the girl, who was guarded by no faithful eye!
His heart throbbed faster as he entered Red Cock Street.
The moon was still in the cloudless, starry sky, shining with her calm, silver radiance upon one side of the street. Barbara’s bow-window was touched by it, and—what did it mean?—a small lamp must still be burning in her room, for the window was illuminated, though but dimly. Perhaps she had kept the light because she felt timid in her lonely chamber. Now Wolf crossed obliquely toward his house.
Just at that moment he saw the tall figure of a man.
What was he doing there at this hour? Was it a thief or a burglar? There was no lack of evil-disposed folk in this time of want.
Wolf still wore his court costume, and the short dress sword which belonged to it hung in its sheath.
His heart beat quicker as he loosed the blade and advanced toward the suspicious night-bird.
Just then he saw the other calmly turn the big key and take it out of the door.