Before the litters reached the little castle a gust of wind rose, driving large drops of rain, straw, and withered leaves-Barbara could not imagine whence they came in the month of May—into her face. She was obliged to struggle against these harbingers of the coming tempest, and her heart grew lighter during the conflict. She was not born to endure, but to contend.
The scene of the festivities emptied rapidly. The duke and Granvelle drove back to the city in the minister’s carriage. Malfalconnet and Quijada, in spite of the gathering storm, went home on foot.
“What a festival!” said Don Luis scornfully.
“In former days such things presented a more superb spectacle even here. But now! No procession, no scarlet save on the cardinals, no golden cross, no venerable priest’s head on the whole pleasure ground, and, moreover, neither consecration nor the pious exhortation to remember Heaven, whence comes the joy in which the crowd is rejoicing.”
“I, too, missed something here,” cried the baron eagerly, “and now I learn through you what it is.”
“Will not the heretics themselves gradually feel that they are robbing the pasty of faith of its truffles—what am I saying?—of its salt? May their dry black bread choke them! The only thing that gave the unseasoned meal a certain charm was the capitally performed gagliarde.
“Which angered his Majesty more deeply than you imagine,” replied Don Luis. “The singer’s days are probably numbered. It is a pity! She was wonderfully successful in subduing the spirits of melancholy.”
“The war, on which we can now depend, will do that equally well, if not better,” interrupted the baron. “Within a short time I, too, have lost all admiration for this fair one. Cold-hearted and arrogant. Capable of the utmost extremes when her hot blood urges her on. Unpopular with the people to whom she belongs, and, in spite of her bold courage, surprisingly afraid of the Holy Inquisition. Here, among the heretics, that gives cause for thought.”
“Enough!” replied Don Luis. “We will let matters take their course. If the worst comes, I, at least, will not move a finger in her behalf.”
“Nor will I,” said Malfalconnet, and both walked quietly on.
[The End of Volume One of the Print Edition]
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Attain a lofty height from which to look down upon others
By Georg Ebers
Through the storm, which lashed her face with whirling clouds of dust and drops of rain, Barbara reached the little Prebrunn castle.