The Emperor’s table was laid in one of the lower rooms of the Golden Cross. The orchestra and the boy choir had been stationed in Saint Leonhard’s chapel. A wide door led from the consecrated chamber, spanned by a vaulted roof, into the dining-room. When it was opened, the music and singing would pour in a full flood to those seated around the board.
Shortly before midnight everything in kitchen and cellar was ready for the royal couple. The wax candles and lamps were already lighted when Queen Mary prepared to bring her imperial brother to the surprise which she had planned, and whose influence she eagerly anticipated.
The Emperor had received the last report half an hour before, and then commissioned his physician, who had again warned him against the excess of work, to protect him from interruption—he desired to have an hour alone.
Dr. Mathys had fulfilled this order with the utmost strictness. Even the English ambassador was dismissed. The members of the royal household and the nobles who during their stay in Ratisbon crowded around the royal brother and sister, and even at this late hour filled the rooms and corridors of the spacious building with busy life, had been commanded to step lightly and keep silent.
The lord chamberlain, Count Heinrich of Nassau, saw that nothing was stirring near the apartment of his imperial master, and the stewards, Quijada and Malfalconnet, aided him. But they could not prevent the barking of Queen Mary’s hunting dogs, and when their royal mistress followed them to accompany her illustrious brother to the dining-hall, Malfalconnet ventured to remark that the lion, when he retires to solitude, sometimes values rest more than the presence of even the most beloved and adorable member of his noble race; but the regent quickly retorted that she had not yet reached lion hunting, but she knew that even the king of beasts possessed a stomach, and would be glad to have rest seasoned with dainty food.
“The banquet is ready,” added Count Buren, and Malfalconnet, with a low bow, said:
“And a portion of it is the covered chiming dish with which your Majesty’s love and wisdom intends to surprise the illustrious epicure.”
While speaking, he cautiously opened the door of the royal apartment, but the dogs were held back by the pages who had carried the train of the festal robe. Two others zealously aided her to throw the trailing brocade across her arm, and in this manner she entered her distinguished brother’s chamber.
This was so deep that a short walk was necessary to reach the window near which the Emperor sat. The office of lighting the vast room was assigned to a dozen wax candles in a silver candelabrum, but they were so inadequate to the task that neither the mythological scenes on the Brabant Gobelin curtains with which the walls were hung, nor the very scanty furniture of the remainder of the long chamber could be seen from the door.