Barbara had anticipated Wolf, but while going home she met him on his way to the Dubois house. He joined her, and still had many questions to answer.
During the next few days her friend helped her compose a letter to her son; but he was constantly obliged to impose moderation upon the passionate vehemence of her feelings. She often yielded to his superior prudence, only she would not fulfil his desire to address her boy as “your Excellency.”
When she read the letter, she thought she had found the right course.
Barbara first introduced herself to John as his real mother. She had loved and honoured his great father with all the strength of her soul, and she might boast of having been clear to him also. By the Emperor Charles’s command he, her beloved child, had been taken from her. She had submitted with a bleeding heart and, to place him in the path of fortune, had inflicted the deepest wounds upon her own soul. Now her self-sacrifice was richly rewarded, and it would make her happier than himself if she should learn that his own merit had led him to the height of fame which she prayed that he might reach.
Then she congratulated him, and begged him not to forget her entirely amid his grandeur. She was only a plain woman, but she, too, belonged to an ancient knightly race, and therefore he need not be ashamed of his mother’s blood.
Lastly, at Wolf’s desire, she requested her son to thank the lady who so lovingly filled her place to him.
Her friend was to give this letter himself to Don John of Austria, and he voluntarily promised to lead the high-minded boy to the belief that his own mother had also been worthy of an Emperor’s love.
Lastly, Wolf promised to inform her of any important event in her son’s life or his own. During the last hour of their meeting he admitted that he was one of the few who felt satisfied with their lot. True, he could not say that he had no wishes; but up to this hour he had desired nothing more constantly and longingly than to hear her sing once more, as in that never-to-be-forgotten May in the Ratisbon home. He might now hope, sooner or later, to have this wish, too, fulfilled. These were kind, cheering words, and with a grateful ebullition of feeling she admitted that, after his glad tidings, she, too, again felt capable of believing in a happy future.
So the friends from childhood bade each other farewell.
During the following days Barbara’s life path was illumined by the reflection of the happiness bestowed by the wonderful change in the fate of her child of sorrow, who now promised to become a giver of joy to her.
Doubtless during the ensuing years many dark shadows fell upon her existence and her heart; but when everything around and within was gloomy, she only needed to think of the son whom she had given the Emperor, and the constantly increasing brilliancy of his career, to raise her head with fresh confidence. Yet the cloud obscuring her happiness which she found it hardest to bear proceeded directly from him.