Once she had preferred the handsome, stately dancer to all other men. Might not this admiration of his person be revived? No—oh, no! And it was fortunate that it was so, for she no longer desired to love—neither him nor any one else. On the other hand, she resolved to make his life as pleasant as lay in her power. When what she granted him had reconciled her father to her, and she was in Brussels, perhaps she would find strength to treat Pyramus so that he would never repent his fidelity.
In the afternoon she longed to escape from the close rooms into the fresh air, and turned her steps toward Prebrunn, in order to see once more the little castle which to her was so rich in beautiful and terrible memories.
On the way she met Frau Lerch. The old woman had kept her keenness of vision and, though Barbara tried to avoid her, the little ex-maid stopped her and asked scornfully:
“Here in Ratisbon again, sweetheart? How fresh you look after your severe illness!—yet you’re still on shank’s mare, instead of in the gold coach drawn by white horses.”
Barbara abruptly turned her back upon her and went home.
As she was passing the Town Hall Pyramus Kogel left it, and she stopped as he modestly greeted her.
Very distinguished and manly he looked in his glittering armour, with the red and yellow sash and the rapier with its large, flashing basket-hilt at his side; yet she said to herself: “Poor, handsome fellow! How many would be proud to lean on your arm! Why do you care for one who can never love you, and to whom you will appear insignificant to the end?”
Then she kindly clasped the hand which he extended, and permitted him to accompany her home. On the Haidplatz she asked him whether he had read the letter which he brought from her father.
He hesitatingly assented. Barbara lowered her eyes, and added softly:
“It is my own dear father to whom you have been kind, and my warmest gratitude is due to you for it.”
The young officer’s heart throbbed faster; but as they turned into Red Cock Street she asked the question:
“You are going from here to Brussels, are you not?”
“To Brussels,” he repeated, scarcely able to control his voice.
She raised her large eyes to him, and, after a hard struggle, the words escaped her lips:
“I learned in Landshut, and it was confirmed by my father’s letter, that you are aware of what I am accused, and that you know—I committed the sin with which they charge me.”
In the very same place where, on an evening never to be forgotten, he had received the first sharp rebuff from Barbara, she now confessed her guilt to him—he doubtless noticed it. It must have seemed like a sign from heaven that it was here she voluntarily approached him, nay, as it were, offered herself to him. But he loved her, and he would have deemed it unchivalrous to let her feel now that their relation to one another had changed. So he only exclaimed with joyous confidence: