Rough Appenzelder regarded this as fortunate; Gombert thought it a matter of course because custom so ordained.
The stimulus which the Queen could expect from Wolf Hartschwert was certainly far less deep and varied; yet to him who, as a knight, belonged to her train, she granted many favours which she denied the famous Gombert. Besides, Wolf’s musical knowledge was as remarkable as his usefulness as a secretary. Lastly, his equable disposition, his unerring sense of propriety, and his well-proved fidelity had gained the full confidence of the royal lady.
By the side of the two composers and leaders of the musicians he looked almost boyish, yet, as the regent was overburdened with affairs of state, she confided to him alone the care of the further success of the surprise.
He was familiar with the rooms of the Golden Cross, and before midnight would have posted the singers and musicians so that his Majesty would first learn through his ears the pleasure which they intended to bestow upon him.
The Queen’s commission imposed upon Wolf a long series of inspections, inquiries, orders, and preparations, the most important of which detained him a long time at the Golden Cross.
After he had done what was necessary there, he hastily took a lunch, and then went to the house of the Golden Stag. The steward of the Schiltl family, to whom the house belonged, but who were now in the country, had given the boy choir shelter there, and Wolf was obliged to inform the leader of his arrangements. Appenzelder had intended to practise exercises with his young pupils in the chapel belonging to this old house, familiar to all the inhabitants of Ratisbon, but Wolf found it empty. On the other hand, young, clear voices echoed from a room in the lower story.
The door stood half open, and, before he crossed the threshold, he had heard with surprise the members of the boy choir, lads ranging from twelve to fifteen, discussing how they should spend the leisure time awaiting them.
The ringleader, Giacomo Bianchi, from Bologna, was asserting that “the old bear”—he meant Appenzelder—“would never permit the incomplete choir to sing before the Emperor and his royal sister.”
“So we shall have the afternoon,” he exclaimed. “The grooms will give me a horse, and after dinner I, and whoever cares to go with me, will ride back to the village where we last stopped. What do I want there? I’ll get the kiss which the tavernkeeper’s charming little daughter owes me. Her sweet mouth and fair braids with the bows of blue ribbon—I saw nothing prettier anywhere!”
“Yes, these blondes!” cried Angelo Negri, a Neapolitan boy of thirteen, rolling his black eyes upward enthusiastically, and kissing, for lack of warm lips, the empty air.
“Sweet, sweet, sweet,” sighed Giacoma Bianchi.
“Sweet enough,” remarked little thick-set Cornelius Groen from Breda, in broken Italian. “Yet you surely are not thinking of that silly girl, with her flaxen braids, but of the nice honey and the light white pastry she brought us. If we can get that again, I’ll ride there with you.”