The ceremony had been opened by the great speech of Philibert of Brussels, which the young Maltese described as a masterpiece of the finest rhetorical art. At the close of this address a solemn silence pervaded the hall, for the Emperor Charles had risen to take leave of his faithful subjects.
One might have heard a leaf fall, a spicier walk, as, supported by the arm of William of Orange, he raised the notes of his address and began to read.
At this information Barbara remembered how Maurice of Saxony had supported the Emperor at the May festival at Prebrunn. William of Orange, too, was still young. She had often seen him, and what deep earnestness rested on his noble brow! how open and pure was the glance of his clear eyes, yet how penetrating and inexorably keen it could also be! She had noticed this at the assembly of the Knights of the Golden Fleece, when he looked at King Philip with bitter hate or certainly with dislike and scorn. Was this man chosen to avenge Charles’s sins upon his son and heir? Could the Prince of Orange be destined to deal with the new king as Maurice of Saxony had treated his imperial father? Would the resentment which, since the day before, had again filled her soul have permitted her to prevent it had she possessed the power?
The Emperor’s speech had treated of his broken health and the necessity of living in a milder climate. Then Don Philip had been described by his father as a successor whose wisdom equalled his experience. This called a smile to Barbara’s lips.
Philip was said to be an industrious, devout man, fond of letter-writing, and full of intrigue, but only his father would venture to compare him with himself, with Charles V.
He, the son, probably knew how vacant and lustreless his eyes were, for he usually fixed them on the ground; and what fulness of life, what a fiery soul had sparkled only a short time ago, when she saw him in the distance, from those of the man whom she certainly was not disposed to flatter!
Then the Emperor had reviewed his whole reign, mentioned how many wars he had waged, how many victories he had won and, finally, had reminded his son of the gratitude he owed a father who during his lifetime bestowed all his possessions upon him and, as it were, descended into the grave in order to make him earlier the heir of all his power and wealth.
Now Barbara fancied that again—she knew not for what hundredth time—the Frieslander’s exclamation, “Debts! debts!” rang in her ears, and at the same time she thought of the boy in Spain who had here been disinherited, and must be hidden in a monastery that the other son of the same father, the diminutive upstart Philip, puffed up with arrogance, might sleep more quietly. For one son the unjust man whom she loved was ready to die before his last hour came, in order to give him all that he possessed; for the other he could find nothing save a monk’s cowl. Instead of the yearning for John, of which Wolf had spoken and she, blind fool, believed, he thought of him with petty fears of the claims by which he might injure his favoured brother. No warm impulse of paternal tenderness stirred the breast of the man whose heart was hardened, who understood how to divest himself of the warmest love as he now cast aside the crown and the purple of royalty.