Thus the prevailing dusk concealed the surroundings of the great monarch who was resting there, and the only object visible to the entering Queen was his figure illumined by the light. In her soul everything else receded far behind the person, welfare, and pleasure of this mighty sovereign. Yet she had already crossed half the room, and her entrance still remained unnoticed.
The Emperor Charles, with his forehead resting on his hand, sat absorbed in thought before the papers which had occupied his attention. How mournful he looked, what sorrowful thoughts were doubtless again burdening that anxious brain! Never before had he seemed to his sister so old.
Perhaps it was the ceaseless planning and pondering of the statesman and general which, during the last few years, had thinned the light-brown hair at the corners of the brow.
The resting ruler now seemed to have brought his mind to repose also, for every emotion had vanished from his pallid face. Even the sharply cut nostrils of the long nose, which usually moved swiftly, were perfectly still. The heavy chin, framed by a thin, closely clipped beard, had sunk upon the high ruff as if for support, and the thick, loosely hanging lower lip appeared to have lost its elasticity.
In this hour of rest and relaxation this tireless and successful sovereign, utterly exhausted, had even relinquished seeming what he was; his brown hair framed his brow and temples in a tangled, disordered mass; the lacings of his velvet doublet were loosened; a shabby woollen coverlet of anything but imperial appearance was wound around his lower limbs, and the foot in which the gout throbbed and ached rested on his sleeping hound, and was wrapped in the cloths which his valet Adrian found at hand after the Venetian ambassador, the confessor, and the leech had left his master.
It pierced his sister to the heart to see her mighty brother, upon whose dominions, it was said, the sun never set, in this guise.
Her glance rested sorrowfully upon him a long time, but even when she moved several paces nearer he retained the same motionless rigidity which had seized upon him and even communicated itself to the dog. The animal knew the regent, and did not let her disturb its repose.
Then a terrible fear assailed her, and the image of the Cid Campeador who, mounted on horseback, went swaying on his steed to meet the foe, rose before her.
“Your Majesty,” then again “Your Majesty,” she called in a low tone, that she might not startle him; but the answer for which she waited in breathless suspense did not come, and now the anxious dread that filled her sisterly heart forced from her lips the cry, “Carlos!” and once more “Carlos!”
The dog stirred, and at the same time the Emperor raised his bowed head and turned toward his sister.
Drawing a long breath, as if relieved from a heavy burden, she hastened to his side, and, clasping his delicately formed hand, kissed it with passionate tenderness; but the Emperor withdrew it, saying with a mournful smile, which gave his rigid countenance a new and more winning expression, in the Castilian language in which he always addressed her: