The Emperor Charles departed on the morning after the bestowal of the Golden Fleece, and two days later Barbara willingly obeyed the leech’s prescription to seek healing at the springs of Abbach on the Danube, a few miles south of Ratisbon, which was almost in the way of those returning thither from Landshut. The waters there had benefited the Emperor Charles fourteen years before, and Barbara remained there with Frau Traut and Lamperi, who had returned to her, until the trees had put on their gay autumn robes and were casting them off to prepare for the rest of winter.
The hope of regaining the melody of her voice induced her conscientiously to follow the physician’s prescriptions but, like the sulphur spring of Abbach,[??] they produced no considerable effect.
Barbara’s conduct had also altered in many respects.
The girl who had formerly devoted great attention to her dress, now often needed to be reminded by Frau Dubois of her personal appearance when she went with her to walk or to church.
She avoided all intercourse with other visitors to the spring after Ratisbon acquaintances had intentionally shunned her.
The Wollers’ country residence, where she had formerly been a welcome guest for weeks every summer, was near Abbach. Anne Mirl was betrothed, and Nandl was on the eve of accepting a young suitor. Both were still warmly attached to their cousin, although they had been told that, by an open love intrigue, she had forfeited the right to visit the respectable home of modest maidens. But the man who had honoured her with his love was no less a personage than the Emperor Charles, and this circumstance only increased the sympathy which the sisters felt for their much-admired friend.
In spite of their mother’s refusal to permit them to ride to the neighbouring town and visit Barbara, they did so, that they might try to comfort her; but though their unfortunate cousin received them and listened to them a short time, she earnestly entreated them to obey their mother and not come again.
Frau Traut perceived that she not only desired to guard the inexperienced girls from trouble, but that their visit disturbed her. The thoughts which were in her mind so completely absorbed her that she now studiously sought the solitude which she had formerly shunned like a misfortune.
Even Pyramus Kogel’s short letter, informing her of her father’s convalescence, and the news from the seat of war which Frau Traut communicated to her to divert her thoughts, and which she had usually anticipated with impatient expectation, awakened only a fleeting interest. Toward the end of the first week in September her companion could inform her that the Emperor Charles had met the Smalcalds at Ingolstadt and, in spite of a severe attack of the gout, had ridden—with his aching foot in linen bandages instead of in the stirrup—from regiment to regiment, kindling the enthusiasm of his troops by fiery words.