He was compelled to use all the power of persuasion at his command to keep her in the boy choir, at least until the poisoned members could be employed again, for she threatened seriously to withdraw her aid in future.
Wolf, too, had a difficult position with the girl whom his persuasion had induced to enter the choir. What Appenzelder ascribed to the devil himself, he attributed merely to the fervour of her fiery artist temperament. Yet her vehement outburst of wrath had startled him also, and a doubt arose in his mind as to what matrimonial life might be with a companion who, in spite of her youth, ventured to oppose elderly, dignified men so irritably and sharply. But at the very next song which had greeted him from her rosy lips this scruple was forgotten. With sparkling eyes he assented to Gombert’s protestation that, in her wrath, she had resembled the goddess Nemesis, and looked more beautiful than ever.
In spite of his gray hair, she seemed to have bewitched the great musician, like so many other men, and this only enhanced her value in Wolf’s sight.
Urgently, nay, almost humbly, he at last entreated her to have patience, for, if not at noon, his Majesty would surely desire to hear the boy choir in the evening. Besides, he added, she must consider it a great compliment that his Majesty had summoned the singers to the Glen Cross the evening before at all, for on such days of fasting and commemoration the Emperor was in the habit of devoting himself to silent reflection, and shunned every amusement.
But honest Appenzelder, who frankly contradicted everything opposed to the truth, would not let this statement pass. Nay, he interrupted Wolf with the assurance that, on the contrary, the Emperor on such days frequently relied upon solemn hymns to transport him into a fitting mood. Besides, the anniversary was past, and if his Majesty did not desire to hear them to-day, business, or the gout, or indigestion, or a thousand other reasons might be the cause. They must simply submit to the pleasure of royalty. They was entirely in accordance with custom that his Majesty did not leave his apartments the day before. He never did so on such anniversaries unless he or Gombert had something unusual to offer.
Barbara bit her lips, and, while the May sun shone brilliantly into the hall, exclaimed:
“So, since this time you could offer him nothing ‘unusual,’ Master, I will beg you to grant me leave of absence.” Then turning swiftly upon her heel and calling to Wolf, by way of explanation, “The Schlumpergers and others are going to Prufening to-day, and they invited me to the May excursion too. It will be delightful, and I shall be glad if you’ll come with us.”
The leader of the choir saw his error, and with earnest warmth entreated her not to make his foolish old head suffer for it. “If, after all, his Majesty should desire to hear the choir that noon, it would only be because——”