He had probably mentioned her to his royal brother, and revenues had been granted her far exceeding poor Wawerl’s dreams, and doubtless a reflection of the admiration which her son earned fell upon her, and her pride was greatly increased. Moreover, she could again devote herself without fear to her ardently beloved art, for even honest old Appenzelder declared that he liked to listen to her, though her voice still lacked much of the overpowering magic of former days. She was in a position, too, to gratify many a taste for whose satisfaction she had often yearned, yet she could not attain a genuine and thorough new sense of happiness.
The weeks which, a few years after her John’s recognition, she spent with self-sacrificing devotion beside her husband’s couch of pain, which was to become his deathbed, passed amid anxiety and grief, and when her affectionate, careful nursing proved vain, and Pyramus died, deep and sincere sorrow overpowered her. True, he had not succeeded in winning her to return his tender love; but after he had closed his eyes she realized for the first time what a wealth of goodness and fidelity was buried with him and lost to her forever.
Her youngest boy, soon after his father’s death, was torn from her by falling into a cistern, and she yielded herself to such passionate grief for his loss that she thought she could never conquer it; but it was soon soothed by the belief that, for the sake of this devout child, whose training for a religious life had already commenced, Heaven had resigned its claims upon John, and that the boy was dwelling in the immediate presence of the Queen of Heaven.
Thus, ere she was aware of it, her burning anguish changed into a cheerful remembrance. Earlier still—more than two years after Wolf’s departure—tidings closely associated with the sorrow inflicted through her John had saddened her. The ship which was to bear the loyal companion of her youth to Spain was wrecked just before the end of the voyage, and Wolf went down with it. Barbara learned the news only by accident, and his death first made her realize with full distinctness how dear he had been to her.
The letter which she had addressed to her son was lost with the man in whom Fate had wrested from her the last friend who would have been able and willing to show her John clearly and kindly a correct picture of his mother’s real character.
For two years she had hoped that Wolf would complete her letter in his own person, and tell her son how her voice and her beauty had won his father’s heart. Quijada had known it; but if he spoke of her to his wife and foster-son, it was scarcely in her favour—he cared little for music and singing.
So the loss of this letter seemed to her, with reason, a severe misfortune. What she now wrote to John could hardly exert much influence upon him. Yet she did write, this time with the aid of Hannibal. But the new letter, which began with thanks for the financial aid which the son had conferred upon his mother through his royal brother, was distasteful both to her pride and her maternal affection. Half prosaic, half far too effusive, it gave a distorted idea of her real feelings, and she tore it up before giving it to the messenger.