The imperial crown would lapse to his brother; Ferdinand’s son, Maximilian, now Charles’s son-in-law, was destined to succeed his father, while the Infant Philip must in future be content with the sovereignty of Spain, the Netherlands, Charles’s Italian possessions, and the New World.
For years Barbara had believed that she hated him, but now, when the bitterest envy could have desired nothing more cruel, with all the warmth of her passionate heart she made his suffering her own, and it filled her with shame and resentment against herself that she, too, had more than once desired to see her own downfall revenged on him.
Her soul was again drawn toward the sorely punished man more strongly than she would have deemed possible a short time before and, after his return to Brussels, she gazed with an aching heart at the ashen-gray face of the sufferer, marked by lines of deep sorrow.
Now he really did resemble a broken old man. Barbara rarely mingled with the people, but she sometimes went with her husband and several acquaintances outside the gate, or heard from the few intimate friends whom she had made, the neighbours, and the peddlers who came to her house, with what cruel harshness the heretics were treated.
When the monarch, it was often said, was no longer the Charles to whom the provinces owed great benefits and who had won many hearts, but his Spanish son, Philip, the chains would be broken, and this shameful bloodshed would be stopped; but her husband declared such predictions idle boasting, and Barbara willingly believed him because she wished that he might be right.
In the officer’s eyes all heretics deserved death, and he agreed with Barbara that the Emperor Charles’s wisdom took the right course in all cases.
His son Philip was obedient to his father, and would certainly continue to wield the sceptre according to his wishes.
The breath of liberty, which was beginning to stir faintly in the provinces through which he so often travelled, could not escape Pyramus’s notice, but he saw in it only the mutinous efforts of shameless rebels and misguided men, who deserved punishment. The quiet seclusion in which Barbara lived rendered it easy to win her over to her husband’s view of this noble movement; besides, it was directed against the unhappy man whom she would willingly have seen spared any fresh anxiety, and who had proved thousands of times how much he preferred the Netherlands to any other of his numerous kingdoms.
Hitherto Barbara had troubled herself very little about political affairs, and her interest in them died completely when a visitor called who threw them, as well as everything else, wholly into the shade.
Wolf Hartschwert had come to Brussels and sought Barbara.
Her husband was attending to the duties of his office in the Rhine country when she received her former lover. Had Pyramus been present, he might perhaps have considered the knight a less dangerous opponent than seven years before, for a great change had taken place in his outer man. The boyish appearance which at that time still clung to him had vanished and, by constant intercourse with the Castilian nobility, he had acquired a manly, self-assured bearing perfectly in harmony with his age and birth.