In the evening the welcome guest was to be entertained by music and, if agreeable to Barbara, by singing also. On the twenty-fifth the city had decided to give a May festival under the lindens in honour of the duke. The Emperor and the whole court were of course invited.
Barbara then acknowledged that she was fond of such magnificent exhibitions, and begged Charles to allow her to attend the festival with the marquise.
The answer was an assent, but the Emperor gave it after some delay, and with the remark that he could devote little time to her, and expected that she would subject herself to some restraint.
True, the painful surprise which her features expressed vividly enough led him to add the apology that, on account of the presence of the two cardinals—for one had come from Augsburg—he would be compelled to deny himself the pleasure of showing her anything more than courteous consideration in public; but she could not succeed in conquering the mortification which, besides the grief of disappointment, had taken possession of her sensitive soul.
Charles probably perceived, by the alternate flushing and paling of her cheeks, what was passing in her thoughts, and would gladly have soothed her; but he refrained, and forced himself to be content with the few conciliatory words which he had already addressed to her.
Great events were impending. If he decided upon war, nothing, not even love, could be permitted to encroach too heavily upon his time and strength; but Barbara and the demands which her love made upon him would surely do this if he did not early impose moderation upon her and himself.
He had heard nothing about the sale of the star, and whatever had displeased him in Barbara’s conduct during the last few weeks she had succeeded in effacing. Yet he had often been on the point of breaking off his relations with her, for just at this time it was of infinite importance that he should keep himself free and strong in mind and body.
Moreover, in a few days he expected his brother Ferdinand with his grown children. Two of his nieces were to be married here in his presence, and he felt that he ought not to let either them or the Cardinal of Trent—who was coming from the Council and would return there—see how strong were the fetters with which, at his age and just at this time, he allowed himself to be bound by love for a beautiful singer.
The wisdom which had long been characteristic of him commanded him to sever abruptly the connection with the woman he loved and remove her from his path. But the demands of the heart and the senses were too powerful for the man who indulged to excess in fiery wine and spiced foods, though he knew that greater abstinence would have spared him torturing pangs.