Every one else who was in the street or at the window looked after Barbara, and pointed out to others the beautiful Jungfrau Blomberg and the proud security with which she governed the spirited gray. She had become a good rider, first upon her father’s horses, and then at the Wollers in the country, and took risks which many a bold young noble would not have imitated.
Her aged suitor’s gray Andalusian was dearer than the man himself, whom she regarded merely as a sheet-anchor which could be used if everything else failed.
The thought of what might happen when, after these days of working for her bread ended, still more terrible ones followed, had troubled her again and again the day before. Now she no longer recollected these miserable things. What a proud feeling it was to ride on horseback through the sweet May air, in the green woods, as her own mistress, and bid defiance to the ungrateful sovereign in the Golden Cross!
The frustration of the hope that her singing would make the Emperor desire to hear her again and again had wounded her to the depths of her soul and spoiled her night’s rest. The annoyance of having vainly put forth her best efforts to please him had become unendurable after the fresh refusal which, as it were, set the seal upon her fears, and in the defiant flight to the forest she seemed to have found the right antidote. As she approached the monarch’s residence, she felt glad and proud that he, who could force half the world to obey him, could not rule her.
To attract his notice by another performance would have been the most natural course, but Barbara had placed herself in a singular relation toward the Emperor Charles. To her he was the man, not the Emperor, and that he did not express a desire to hear her again seemed like an insult which the man offered to the woman, the artist, who was ready to obey his sign.
Her perverse spirit had rebelled against such lack of appreciation of her most precious gifts, and filled her with rankling hatred against the first person who had closed his heart to the victorious magic of her voice.
When she refused Appenzelder her aid in case the Emperor Charles desired to hear the choir that evening, and promised Frau Kastenmayr to accompany her to Prufening, she had been like a rebellious child filled with the desire to show the man who cared nothing for her that, against her will, he could not hear even a single note from her lips.
They were to meet the other members of the party at St. Oswald’s Church on the Danube, so they were obliged to pass the Golden Cross.
This suited Barbara and, with triumphant selfconfidence, in which mingled a slight shade of defiance, she looked up to the Emperor’s windows. She did not see him, it is true, but she made him a mute speech which ran: “When, foolish sovereign, who did not even think it worth while to grant me a single look, you hear the singing again to-night, and miss the voice which, I know full well, penetrated your heart, you will learn its value, and long for it as ardently as I desired your summons.”