“That command closed my lips also,” said the valet.
“But what the hearing rejected forced itself upon the sight,” remarked Charles, gazing fixedly into vacancy. “Wherever I appear in public I see this woman, always this woman! It is not only the basilisk’s eye that has constraining power. I can not help perceiving her, yet I have as little desire to meet her gaze as to encounter vanity, worldly pleasure, folly, sin.”
“Then,” cried Quijada angrily, “it will be advisable to transfer her husband, who is in your Majesty’s service, from here to Andalusia or to the New World.”
“As if she would accompany him!” exclaimed the monarch with a scornful laugh. “No, my friend. This woman did not marry for her own pleasure, but to cause me sorrow or indignation. She succeeded, too, to a certain extent; but I do not war with women, least of all with one who is so unhappy. If we send her husband—who, moreover, is a useful fellow—across the ocean, she will stay here in Brussels, and we shall fare like the maid-servants who killed the cocks, and were then waked by the mistress of the house still earlier than before. Besides, one who earnestly seeks his true salvation will not remove from his path such a living memento, such a walking monitor of past sins and follies; and, finally, this woman is not wholly wrong in deeming herself an unusual person, cruelly as Heaven has destroyed her best gift. On no account—you hear me—shall she be wounded or injured for my sake so long as she reminds me only by her eyes that in happier days we were closely connected. But to-day the ghost ventured to draw nearer to me than is seemly, and I recognise the object. It entered the park, not on my account, but the boy’s—and, Adrian, from your house. I demand the whole truth! Did she find the way to the boy, and was your wife, who is usually a prudent woman, unwise enough to allow her to feast her eyes upon him?”
“She is the child’s mother,” the valet answered gently, “and your Majesty knows—”
“I know,” Charles interrupted the faithful attendant in a sterner tone than he commonly used to him, “that you were most positively forbidden to permit any one to approach the boy, least of all the person who gazes at him with greedy eyes, and from whom might proceed measureless perils. Your wife, Adrian, who is tenderly attached to the child, will now suffer the most painfully for the disobedience. It must go away from here, go at once, and to a distant country—to Spain. If politics and Heaven permit, I shall soon follow.—You, Luis, will now arrange with Adrian the best plan for the removal. The work must be accomplished in the utmost secrecy. The boy shall grow up in the wholesome air of the country. No one who surrounds him must be permitted even to suspect to whom he owes his life. This child shall be simple in his habits, devout, and modest, far from flattery and spoiling, among other lads of plain families, who know nothing