What had he in view?
Yet it must be something good.
When the light shone through her flower-decked window upon his face, she thought she perceived this by the smile hovering around his lips. She was not mistaken, nor did she wait long for the joyous tidings she expected; his desire to tell her what, with the exception of the regent—to whom his travelling companion, the Grand Prior Don Luis de Avila, was perhaps just telling it as King Philip’s envoy—no human being in the Netherlands could yet know, was perhaps not much less than hers to hear it.
Scarcely an hour before he had dismounted in Brussels with the nobleman, and his first visit was to her, whom his news must render happy, even happier than it did him and the woman in the house near the palace, whose heart cherished the Emperor’s son scarcely less warmly than his own mother’s.
On the long journey hither he had constantly anticipated the pleasure of telling every incident in succession, just as it had happened; but Barbara interrupted his first sentence with an inquiry how her John was faring.
“He is so well that scarcely ever has any boy in the happiest time of his life fared better,” was the reply; and its purport, as well as the tone in which it was uttered, entered Barbara’s heart like angels’ greetings from the wide-open heavens. But Wolf went on with his report, and when, in spite of hundreds of questions, he at last completed the main points, his listener staggered, as if overcome by wine, to the image of the Virgin on the pilaster, and with uplifted hands threw herself on her knees before it.
Wolf, unobserved, silently stole away.
The following afternoon Wolf sought Barbara again, and now for the first time succeeded in relating regularly and clearly what, constantly interrupted by her impatience, he had told in a confused medley the day before. Pyramus, as usual, was away, and Barbara had taken care that no one should interrupt them.
Deep silence pervaded the comfortable room, and Wolf had seated himself in the arm-chair opposite to the young wife when, at her entreaty, he began to tell the story again. She had informed him of Dona Magdalena’s letter, and that it took her to the Emperor’s residence in San Yuste. At that point her friend’s fresh tidings began.
In the spring of the previous year Wolf had again been summoned from Valladolid, where in the winter he directed the church singing as prinnen of the religious music, to Cuacos, near San Yuste, where Quijada’s wife lived with her foster-son Geronimo. From there he had often gone with Dona Magdalena and the boy to the Emperor’s residence, and frequently saw him.