Here Frau Traut paused to look at Barbara, who had listened, panting for breath.
She was sorry that she had not omitted the last sentence, but in the zeal of translating it had unconsciously escaped her lips, and, as she found no softening word, she went on:
“Geronimo has become a dear child to me. He thinks that I am his own mother, and clings to me with filial affection. To lead such a son to this august father was the greatest joy that Heaven has bestowed upon me.
“Dressed as my page, he rode with me to Jarandilla to meet his Majesty. He was to present to the imperial master, of whose near relationship he had no idea, a little basket filled with beautiful oranges from our garden in Villagarcia, which you know.
“The young horseman, who understands how to wheel his steed, swung himself from the saddle close beside his Majesty, bent the knee with noble grace, raised his little plumed hat, and, pressing his left hand upon his heart, presented the little gift to his sovereign and master. As the weather was mild, the latter sat in an open sedan chair, and when he saw Geronimo he scanned him with the keen glance of the ruler, and then looked inquiringly at my husband. Don Luis nodded the answer which he desired to receive, and a bright smile flitted over his emaciated, corpselike features. Then he accepted the oranges, stroked his son’s curls, addressed a few questions to him, which he answered modestly but aptly, and then called to my husband, ‘This boy must remain near me.’
“Oh, what pleasure all this gave me! Now Geronimo goes in and out of his Majesty’s apartments freely, and my reason for writing this letter is an incident I happened to witness, and which will please you, Adrian, and your good wife, as it filled my heart with fervent gratitude. So listen: When the Emperor meets Geronimo in the presence of strangers, he seems to take neither more nor less notice of him than of the other pages who come to San Yuste. Only he often calls him, asks a question, or gives him some trivial commission. Others would scarcely notice it, but I see the brightening of his eyes as he does so.