“No, Barbara, no,” interrupted Wolf, carried away by her passionate warmth. “The Emperor Charles is constantly thinking of his fair-haired boy. No one has told me so; but if he seeks in Spain the rest for which he longs, the thought of Geronimo—I am sure of that—is not the least powerful cause which draws him thither.”
“Do you really think so?” asked Barbara with feverish anxiety.
“Yes,” he answered firmly. “This very morning he commanded Don Luis to take the child from Leganes to Villagarcia and commit the education of Geronimo to his wife, that he may find him what he expects and desires.”
Here he paused, and Barbara inquired uneasily, “And did he say nothing of Geronimo’s mother—of me?”
Wolf shook his head with silent compassion, and then reluctantly admitted: “I ventured to mention you, but, with one of those looks which no one can resist—you know them—he ordered me to be silent.”
Barbara’s cheeks flamed with resentment and shame, but she only said, smiling bitterly: “Grief is grief, and this new sorrow does not change the old one. He knows best that I am something more than the poor officer’s wife in the Saint-Gory quarter; but I look down, with just pride, on all the others who believe me to be nothing else. Now and always, even long after I am dead, the world will be obliged to recognise the claim which elevates me far above the throng: I am the mother of an Emperor’s son!”
She had uttered these words with uplifted head; but Wolf gazed in wondering admiration into the beautiful face, radiant with proud self-satisfaction.
He wished to leave her with this image before his soul, and therefore hurriedly extended his hand and said farewell, after promising to fulfil her entreaty never to come to Brussels without showing by a visit that he remembered her.
Pyramus Kogel, on his return, saw nothing of the deep impression which Wolf’s visit had made upon Barbara. She merely mentioned it, and carelessly said that the friend of her youth had been delighted with the children.
The news that reached her ears about what was happening in the world awakened her interest, it is true, but she took no trouble to ask for tidings. When, the following year, her husband informed her that the Emperor’s only son was about to conclude a second marriage, with Mary Tudor, of England, and Charles was to commit to Philip the sovereignty of the Netherlands, Spain, Naples, and Milan, she received it as if she had already known it.