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Fair Margaret by H. Rider Haggard

Part 6 out of 6

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also upon the white cloak that hung from his shoulders, behind him a
squire of high degree, who carried his plumed casque and lance, and
accompanied by an escort of the royal guards, Peter rode from his
quarters in the prison to the palace gates, and waited there as he had
been bidden. Presently they opened, and through them, seated on a
palfrey, appeared Margaret, wonderfully attired in white and silver, but
with her veil lifted so that her face could be seen. She was companioned
by a troop of maidens mounted, all of them, on white horses, and at her
side, almost outshining her in glory of apparel, and attended by all her
household, rode Betty, Marchioness of Morella--at any rate for that
present time.

Although she could never be less than beautiful, it was a worn and pale
Margaret who bowed her greetings to the bridegroom without those palace
gates. What wonder, since she knew that within a few hours his life
must be set upon the hazard of a desperate fray. What wonder, since she
knew that to-morrow her father was doomed to be burnt living upon, the

They met, they greeted; then, with silver trumpets blowing before them,
the glittering procession wound its way through the narrow streets of
Seville. But few words passed between them, whose hearts were too full
for words, who had said all they had to say, and now abided the issue of
events. Betty, however, whom many of the populace took for the bride,
because her air was so much the happier of the two, would not be silent.
Indeed she chid Margaret for her lack of gaiety upon such an occasion.

"Oh, Betty!--Betty!" answered Margaret, "how can I be gay, upon whose
heart lies the burden of to-morrow?"

"A pest upon the burden of to-morrow!" exclaimed Betty. "The burden of
to-day is enough for me, and that is not so bad to bear. Never shall we
have another such ride as this, with all the world staring at us, and
every woman in Seville envying us and our good looks and the favour of
the queen."

"I think it is you they stare at and envy," said Margaret, glancing at
the splendid woman at her side, whose beauty she knew well over-shadowed
her own rarer loveliness, at any rate in a street pageant, as in the
sunshine the rose overshadows the lily.

"Well," answered Betty, "if so, it is because I put the better face on
things, and smile even if my heart bleeds. At least, your lot is more
hopeful than mine. If your husband has to fight to the death presently,
so has mine, and between ourselves I favour Peter's chances. He is a
very stubborn fighter, Peter, and wonderfully strong--too stubborn and
strong for any Spaniard."

"Well, that is as it should be," said Margaret, smiling faintly, "seeing
that Peter is your champion, and if he loses, you are stamped as a
serving-girl, and a woman of no character."

"A serving-girl I was, or something not far different," replied Betty in
a reflective voice, "and my character is a matter between me and Heaven,
though, after all, it might scrape through where others fail to pass. So
these things do not trouble me over much. What troubles me is that if my
champion wins he kills my husband."

"You don't want him to be killed then?" asked Margaret, glancing at her.

"No, I think not," answered Betty with a little shake in her voice, and
turning her head aside for a moment. "I know he is a scoundrel, but, you
see, I always liked this scoundrel, just as you always hated him, so I
cannot help wishing that he was going to meet some one who hits a little
less hard than Peter. Also, if he dies, without doubt his heirs will
raise suits against me."

"At any rate your father is not going to be burnt to-morrow," said
Margaret to change the subject, which, to tell the truth, was an
awkward one.

"No, Cousin, if my father had his deserts, according to all accounts,
although the lineage that I gave of him is true enough, doubtless he was
burnt long ago, and still goes on burning--in Purgatory, I mean--though
God knows I would never bring a faggot to his fire. But Master Castell
will not be burnt, so why fret about it."

"What makes you say that?" asked Margaret, who had not confided the
details of a certain plot to Betty.

"I don't know, but I am sure that Peter will get him out somehow. He is
a very good stick to lean on, Peter, although he seems so hard and
stupid and silent, which, after all, is in the nature of sticks. But
look, there is the cathedral--is it not a fine place?--and a great crowd
of people waiting round the gate. Now smile, Cousin. Bow and smile as
I do."

They rode up to the great doors, where Peter, springing to the ground,
assisted his bride from her palfrey. Then the procession formed, and
they entered the wonderful place, preceded by vergers with staves, and
by acolytes. Margaret had never visited it before, and never saw it
again, but all her life the memory of it remained clear and vivid in her
mind. The cold chill of the air within, the semi-darkness after the
glare of the sunshine, the seven great naves, or aisles, stretching
endlessly to right and left, the dim and towering roof, the pillars that
sprang to it everywhere like huge forest trees aspiring to the skies,
the solemn shadows pierced by lines of light from the high-cut windows,
the golden glory of the altars, the sounds of chanting, the sepulchres
of the dead--a sense of all these things rushed in upon her,
overpowering her and stamping the picture of them for ever on
her memory.

Slowly they passed onward to the choir, and round it to the steps of the
great altar of the chief chapel. Here, between the choir and the chapel,
was gathered the congregation--no small one--and here, side by side to
the right and without the rails, in chairs of state, sat their Majesties
of Spain, who had chosen to grace this ceremony with their presence.
More, as the bride came, the queen Isabella, as a special act of grace,
rose from her seat and, bending forward, kissed her on the cheek, while
the choir sang and the noble music rolled. It was a splendid spectacle,
this marriage of hers, celebrated in perhaps the most glorious fane in
Europe. But even as Margaret noted it and watched the bishops and
priests decked with glittering embroideries, summoned there to do her
honour, as they moved to and fro in the mysterious ceremonial of the
Mass, she bethought her of other rites equally glorious that would take
place on the morrow in the greatest square of Seville, where these same
dignitaries would condemn fellow human beings--perhaps among them her
own father--to be married to the cruel flame.

Side by side they knelt before the wondrous altar, while the
incense-clouds from the censers floated up one by one till they were
lost in the gloom above, as the smoke of to-morrow's sacrifice would
lose itself in the heavens, she and her husband, won at last, won after
so many perils, perhaps to be lost again for ever before night fell upon
the world. The priests chanted, the gorgeous bishop bowed over them and
muttered the marriage service of their faith, the ring was set upon her
hand, the troths were plighted, the benediction spoken, and they were
man and wife till death should them part, that death which stood so near
to them in this hour of life fulfilled. Then they two, who already that
morning had made confession of their sins, kneeling alone before the
altar, ate of the holy Bread, sealing a mystery with a mystery.

All was done and over, and rising, they turned and stayed a moment hand
in hand while the sweet-voiced choir sang some wondrous chant.
Margaret's eyes wandered over the congregation till presently they
lighted upon the dark face of Morella, who stood apart a little way,
surrounded by his squires and gentlemen, and watched her. More, he came
to her, and bowing low, whispered to her:

"We are players in a strange game, my lady Margaret, and what will be
its end, I wonder? Shall I be dead to-night, or you a widow? Aye, and
where was its beginning? Not here, I think. And where, oh where shall
this seed we sow bear fruit? Well, think as kindly of me as you can,
since I loved you who love me not."

And again bowing, first to her, then to Peter, he passed on, taking no
note of Betty, who stood near, considering him with her large eyes, as
though she also wondered what would be the end of all this play.

Surrounded by their courtiers, the king and queen left the cathedral,
and after them came the bridegroom and the bride. They mounted their
horses and in the glory of the southern sunlight rode through the
cheering crowd back to the palace and to the marriage feast, where their
table was set but just below that of their Majesties. It was long and
magnificent; but little could they eat, and, save to pledge each other
in the ceremonial cup, no wine passed their lips. At length some
trumpets blew, and their Majesties rose, the king saying in his thin,
clear voice that he would not bid his guests farewell, since very
shortly they would all meet again in another place, where the gallant
bridegroom, a gentleman of England, would champion the cause of his
relative and countrywoman against one of the first grandees of Spain
whom she alleged had done her wrong. That fray, alas! would be no
pleasure joust, but to the death, for the feud between these knights was
deep and bitter, and such were the conditions of their combat. He could
not wish success to the one or to the other; but of this he was sure,
that in all Seville there was no heart that would not give equal honour
to the conqueror and the conquered, sure also that both would bear
themselves as became brave knights of Spain and England.

Then the trumpets blew again, and the squires and gentlemen who were
chosen to attend him came bowing to Peter, and saying that it was time
for him to arm. Bride and bridegroom rose and, while all the spectators
fell back out of hearing, but watching them with curious eyes, spoke
some few words together.

"We part," said Peter, "and I know not what to say."

"Say nothing, husband," she answered him, "lest your words should weaken
me. Go now, and bear you bravely, as you will for your own honour and
that of England, and for mine. Dead or living you are my darling, and
dead or living we shall meet once more and be at rest for aye. My
prayers be with you, Sir Peter, my prayers and my eternal love, and may
they bring strength to your arm and comfort to your heart."

Then she, who would not embrace him before all those folk, curtseyed
till her knee almost touched the ground, while low he bent before her, a
strange and stately parting, or so thought that company; and taking the
hand of Betty, Margaret left him.

* * * * *

Two hours had gone by. The Plaza de Toros, for the great square where
tournaments were wont to be held was in the hands of those who prepared
it for the _auto-da-fé_ of the morrow, was crowded as it had seldom been
before. This place was a huge amphitheatre--perchance the Romans built
it--where all sorts of games were celebrated, among them the baiting of
bulls as it was practised in those days, and other semi-savage sports.
Twelve thousand people could sit upon the benches that rose tier upon
tier around the vast theatre, and scarce a seat was empty. The arena
itself, that was long enough for horses starting at either end of it to
come to their full speed, was strewn with white sand, as it may have
been in the days when gladiators fought there. Over the main entrance
and opposite to the centre of the ring were placed the king and queen
with their lords and ladies, and between them, but a little behind, her
face hid by her bridal veil, sat Margaret, upright and silent as a
statue. Exactly in front of them, on the further side of the ring in a
pavilion, and attended by her household, appeared Betty, glittering with
gold and jewels, since she was the lady in whose cause, at least in
name, this combat was to be fought _à l'outrance._ Quite unmoved she
sat, and her presence seemed to draw every eye in that vast assembly
which talked of her while it waited, with a sound like the sound of the
sea as it murmurs on a beach at night.

Now the trumpets blew, and silence fell, and then, preceded by heralds
in golden tabards, Carlos, Marquis of Morella, followed by his squires,
rode into the ring through the great entrance. He bestrode a splendid
black horse, and was arrayed in coal-black armour, while from his casque
rose black ostrich plumes. On his shield, however, painted in scarlet,
appeared the eagle crowned with the coronet of his rank, and beneath,
the proud motto--"What I seize I tear." A splendid figure, he pressed
his horse into the centre of the arena, then causing it to wheel round,
pawing the air with its forelegs, saluted their Majesties by raising his
long, steel-tipped lance, while the multitude greeted him with a shout.
This done, he and his company rode away to their station at the north
end of the ring.

Again the trumpets sounded, and a herald appeared, while after him,
mounted on a white horse, and clad in his white armour that glistened in
the sun, with white plumes rising from his casque, and on his shield the
stooping falcon blazoned in gold with the motto of "For love and honour"
beneath it, appeared the tall, grim shape of Sir Peter Brome. He, too,
rode out into the centre of the arena, and, turning his horse quite
soberly, as though it were on a road, lifted his lance in salute. Now
there was no cheering, for this knight was a foreigner, yet soldiers who
were there said to each other that he looked like one who would not
easily be overthrown.

A third time the trumpets sounded, and the two champions, advancing from
their respective stations, drew rein side by side in front of their
Majesties, where the conditions of the combat were read aloud to them by
the chief herald. They were short. That the fray should be to the death
unless the king and queen willed otherwise and the victor consented;
that it should be on horse or on foot, with lance or sword or dagger,
but that no broken weapon might be replaced and no horse or armour
changed; that the victor should be escorted from the place of combat
with all honour, and allowed to depart whither he would, in the kingdom
or out of it, and no suit or blood-feud raised against him; and that the
body of the fallen be handed over to his friends for burial, also with
all honour. That the issue of this fray should in no way affect any
cause pleaded in Courts ecclesiastical or civil, by the lady who
asserted herself to be the Marchioness of Morella, or by the most noble
Marquis of Morella, whom she claimed as her husband.

These conditions having been read, the champions were asked if they
assented to them, whereon each of them answered, "Aye!" in a clear
voice. Then the herald, speaking on behalf of Sir Peter Brome, by
creation a knight of St. Iago and a Don of Spain, solemnly challenged
the noble Marquis of Morella to single combat to the death, in that he,
the said marquis, had aspersed the name of his relative, the English
lady, Elizabeth Dene, who claimed to be his wife, duly united to him in
holy wedlock, and for sundry other causes and injuries worked towards
him, the said Sir Peter Brome, and his wife, Dame Margaret Brome, and in
token thereof, threw down a gauntlet, which gauntlet the Marquis of
Morella lifted upon the point of his lance and cast over his shoulder,
thus accepting the challenge.

Now the combatants dropped their visors, which heretofore had been
raised, and their squires, coming forward, examined the fastenings of
their armour, their weapons, and the girths and bridles of their
horses. These being pronounced sound and good, pursuivants took the
steeds by the bridles and led them to the far ends of the lists. At a
signal from the king a single clarion blew, whereon the pursuivants
loosed their hold of the bridles and sprang back. Another clarion blew,
and the knights gathered up their reins, settled their shields, and set
their lances in rest, bending forward over their horses' necks.

An intense silence fell upon all the watching multitude as that of night
upon the sea, and in the midst of it the third clarion blew--to Margaret
it sounded like the trump of doom. From twelve thousand throats one
great sigh went up, like the sigh of wind upon the sea, and ere it died
away, from either end of the arena, like arrows from the bow, like
levens from a cloud, the champions started forth, their stallions
gathering speed at every stride. Look, they met! Fair on each shield
struck a lance, and backward reeled their holders. The keen points
glanced aside or up, and the knights, recovering themselves, rushed past
each other, shaken but unhurt. At the ends of the lists the squires
caught the horses by the bridles and turned them. The first course
was run.

Again the clarions blew, and again they started forward, and presently
again they met in mid career. As before, the lances struck upon the
shields; but so fearful was the impact, that Peter's shivered, while
that of Morella, sliding from the topmost rim of his foe's buckler, got
hold in his visor bars. Back went Peter beneath the blow, back and still
back, till almost he lay upon his horse's crupper. Then, when it seemed
that he must fall, the lacings of his helm burst. It was torn from his
head, and Morella passed on bearing it transfixed upon his spear point.

"The Falcon falls," screamed the spectators; "he is unhorsed."

But Peter was not unhorsed. Freed from that awful pressure, he let drop
the shattered shaft and, grasping at his saddle strap, dragged himself
back into the selle. Morella tried to stay his charger, that he might
come about and fall upon the Englishman before he could recover himself;
but the brute was heady, and would not be turned till he saw the wall of
faces in front of him. Now they were round, both of them, but Peter had
no spear and no helm, while the lance of Morella was cumbered with his
adversary's casque that he strove to shake free from it, but in vain.

"Draw your sword," shouted voices to Peter--the English voices of Smith
and his sailors--and he put his hand down to do so, then bethought him
of some other counsel, for he let it lie within its scabbard, and,
spurring the white horse, came at Morella like a storm.

"The Falcon will be spiked," they screamed. "The Eagle wins!--the Eagle
wins!" And indeed it seemed that it must be so. Straight at Peter's
undefended face drove Morella's lance, but lo! as it came he let fall
his reins and with his shield he struck at the white plumes about its
point, the plumes torn from his own head. He had judged well, for up
flew those plumes, a little, a very little, yet far enough to give him
space, crouching on his saddle-bow, to pass beneath the deadly spear.
Then, as they swept past each other, out shot that long, right arm of
his and, gripping Morella like a hook of steel, tore him from his
saddle, so that the black horse rushed forward riderless, and the white
sped on bearing a double burden.

Grasping desperately, Morella threw his arms about his neck, and
intertwined, black armour mixed with white, they swayed to and fro,
while the frightened horse beneath rushed this way and that till,
swerving suddenly, together they fell upon the sand, and for a moment
lay there stunned.

"Who conquers?" gasped the crowd; while others answered, "Both are
sped!" And, leaning forward in her chair, Margaret tore off her veil and
watched with a face like the face of death.

See! As they had fallen together, so together they stirred and
rose--rose unharmed. Now they sprang back, out flashed the long swords,
and, while the squires caught the horses and, running in, seized the
broken spears, they faced each other. Having no helm, Peter held his
buckler above his head to shelter it, and, ever calm, awaited the

At him came Morella, and with a light, grating sound his sword fell upon
the steel. Before he could recover himself Peter struck back; but
Morella bent his knees, and the stroke only shore the black plumes from
his casque. Quick as light he drove at Peter's face with his point; but
the Englishman leapt to one side, and the thrust went past him. Again
Morella came at him, and struck so mighty a blow that, although Peter
caught it on his buckler, it sliced through the edge of it and fell upon
his unprotected neck and shoulder, wounding him, for now red blood
showed on the white armour, and Peter reeled back beneath the stroke.

"The Eagle wins!--the Eagle wins! Spain and the Eagle" shouted ten
thousand throats. In the momentary silence that followed, a single
voice, a clear woman's voice, which even then Margaret knew for that of
Inez, cried from among the crowd:

"Nay, the Falcon stoops!"

Before the sound of her words died away, maddened it would seem, by the
pain of his wound, or the fear of defeat, Peter shouted out his war-cry
of _"A Brome! A Brome"_! and, gathering himself together, sprang
straight at Morella as springs a starving wolf. The blue steel flickered
in the sunlight, then down it fell, and lo! half the Spaniard's helm lay
on the sand, while it was Morella's turn to reel backward--and more, as
he did so, he let fall his shield.

"A stroke!--a good stroke!" roared the crowd. "The Falcon!--the Falcon!"

Peter saw that fallen shield, and whether for chivalry's sake, as
thought the cheering multitude, or to free his left arm, he cast away
his own, and grasping the sword with both hands rushed on the Spaniard.
From that moment, helmless though he was, the issue lay in doubt no
longer. Betty had spoken of Peter as a stubborn swordsman and a hard
hitter, and both of these he now showed himself to be. As fresh to all
appearance as when he ran the first course, he rained blow after blow
upon the hapless Spaniard, till the sound of his sword smiting on the
good Toledo steel was like the sound of a hammer falling continually on
the smith's red iron. They were fearful blows, yet still the tough steel
held, and still Morella, doing what he might, staggered back beneath
them, till at length he came in front of the tribune, in which sat their
Majesties and Margaret. Out of the corner of his eye Peter saw the
place, and determined in his stout heart that then and there he would
end the thing. Parrying a cut which the desperate Spaniard made at his
head, he thrust at him so heavily that his blade bent like a bow, and,
although he could not pierce the black mail, almost lifted Morella from
his feet. Then, as he reeled backwards, Peter whirled his sword on high,
and, shouting "_Margaret!_" struck downwards with all his strength. It
fell as lightning falls, swift, keen, dazzling the eyes of all who
watched. Morella raised his arm to break the blow. In vain! The weapon
that he held was shattered, the casque beneath was cloven, and, throwing
his arms wide, he fell heavily to the ground and lay there
moving feebly.

For an instant there was silence, and in it a shrill woman's voice that

"The Falcon has stooped. The English hawk _has stooped!_"

Then there arose a tumult of shouting. "He is dead!" "Nay, he stirs."
"Kill him!" "Spare him; he fought well!"

Peter leaned upon his sword, looking at the fallen foe. Then he glanced
upwards at their Majesties, but these sat silent, making no sign, only
he saw Margaret try to rise from her seat and speak, to be pulled back
to it again by the hands of women. A deep hush fell upon the watching
thousands who waited for the end. Peter looked at Morella. Alas! he
still lived, his sword and the stout helmet had broken the weight of
that stroke, mighty though it had been. The man was but wounded in three
places and stunned. "What must I do?" asked Peter in a hollow voice to
the royal pair above him.

Now the king, who seemed moved, was about to speak; but the queen bent
forward and whispered something to him, and he remained silent. They
both were silent. All the intent multitude was silent. Knowing what this
dreadful silence meant, Peter cast down his sword and drew his dagger,
wherewith to cut the lashings of Morella's gorget and give the _coup
de grâce_.

Just then it was that for the first time he heard a sound, far away upon
the other side of the arena, and, looking thither, saw the strangest
sight that ever his eyes beheld. Over the railing of the pavilion
opposite to him a woman climbed nimbly as a cat, and from it, like a
cat, dropped to the ground full ten feet below, then, gathering up her
dress about her knees, ran swiftly towards him. It was Betty! Betty
without a doubt! Betty in her gorgeous garb, with pearls and braided
hair flying loose behind her. He stared amazed. All stared amazed, and
in half a minute she was on them, and, standing over the fallen Morella,
gasped out:

"Let him be! I bid you let him be."

Peter knew not what to do or say, so advanced to speak with her, whereon
with a swoop like that of a swallow she pounced upon his sword that lay
in the sand and, leaping back to Morella, shook it on high, shouting:

"You will have to fight me first, Peter."

Indeed, she did more, striking at him so shrewdly with his own sword
that he was forced to spring sideways to avoid the stroke. Now a great
roar of laughter went up to heaven. Yes, even Peter laughed, for no
such thing as this had ever before been seen in Spain. It died away, and
again Betty, who had no low voice, shouted in her villainous Spanish:

"He shall kill me before he kills my husband. Give me my husband!"

"Take him, for my part," answered Peter, whereon, letting fall the
sword, Betty, filled with the strength of despair, lifted the senseless
Spaniard in her strong white arms as though he were a child, and his
bleeding head lying on her shoulder, strove to carry him away, but
could not.

Then, while all that audience cheered frantically, Peter with a gesture
of despair threw down his dagger and once more appealed to their
Majesties. The king rose and held up his hand, at the same time
motioning to Morella's squires to take him from the woman, which, seeing
their cognizance, Betty allowed them to do.

"Marchioness of Morella," said the king, for the first time giving her
that title, "your honour is cleared, your champion has conquered, and
this fierce fray was to the death. What have you to say?"

"Nothing," answered Betty, "except that I love the man, though he has
treated rue and others ill, and, as I knew he would if he crossed swords
with Peter, has got his deserts for his deeds. I say I love him, and if
Peter wishes to kill him, he must kill me first."

"Sir Peter Brome," said the king, "the judgment lies in your hand. We
give you the man's life, to grant or to take."

Peter thought a while, then answered:

"I grant him his life if he will acknowledge this lady to be his true
and lawful wife, and live with her as such, now and for ever, staying
all suits against her."

"How can he do that, you fool," asked Betty, "when you have knocked all
his senses out of him with that great sword of yours?"

"Perhaps," suggested Peter humbly, "some one will do it for him."

"Yes," said Isabella, speaking for the first time, "I will. On behalf of
the Marquis of Morella I promise these things, Don Peter Brome, before
all these people here gathered. I add this: that if he should live, and
it pleases him to break this promise made on his behalf to save him from
death, then let his name be shamed, yes, let it become a byword and a
scorn. Proclaim it, heralds."

So the heralds blew their trumpets and one of them called out the
queen's decree, whereat the spectators cheered again, shouting that it
was good, and they bore witness to that promise.

Then Morella, still senseless, was borne away by his squires, Betty in
her blood-stained robe marching at his side, and his horse having been
brought to him again, Peter, wounded though he was, mounted and galloped
round the arena amidst plaudits such as that place had never heard,
till, lifting his sword in salutation, suddenly he and his gentlemen
vanished by the gate through which he had appeared.

Thus strangely enough ended that combat which thereafter was always
known as the Fray of the Eagle and the English Hawk.



It was night. Peter, faint with loss of blood and stiff with bruises,
had bade his farewell to their Majesties of Spain, who spoke many soft
words to him, calling him the Flower of Knighthood, and offering him
high place and rank if he would abide in their service. But he thanked
them and said No, for in Spain he had suffered too much to dwell there.
So they kissed his bride, the fair Margaret, who clung to her wounded
husband like ivy to an oak, and would not be separated from him, even
for a moment, that husband whom living she had scarcely hoped to clasp
again. Yes, they kissed her, and the queen threw about her a chain from
her own neck as a parting gift, and wished her joy of so gallant a lord.

"Alas! your Majesty," said Margaret, her dark eyes filling with tears,
"how can I be joyous, who must think of to-morrow?"

Thereon Isabella set her face and answered:

"Dona Margaret Brome, be thankful for what to-day has brought you, and
forget to-morrow and that which it must justly take away. Go now, and
God be with you both!"

So they went, the little knot of English sailormen, who, wrapped in
Spanish cloaks, had sat together in the amphitheatre and groaned when
the Eagle struck, and cheered when the Falcon swooped, leading, or
rather carrying Peter under cover of the falling night to a boat not far
from this Place of Bulls. In this they embarked unobserved, for the
multitude, and even Peter's own squires believed that he had returned
with his wife to the palace, as he had given out that he would do. So
they were rowed to the _Margaret_, which straightway made as though she
were about to sail, and indeed dropped a little way down stream. Here
she anchored again, just round a bend of the river, and lay there for
the night.

It was a heavy night, and in it there was no place for love or lovers'
tenderness. How could there be between these two, who for so long had
been tormented by doubts and fears, and on this day had endured such
extremity of terror and such agony of joy? Peter's wound also was deep
and wide, though his shield had broken the weight of Morella's sword,
and its edge had caught upon his shoulder-piece, so that by good chance
it had not reached down to the arteries, or shorn into the bone; yet he
had lost much blood, and Smith, the captain, who was a better surgeon
than might have been guessed from his thick hands, found it needful to
wash out the cut with spirit that gave much pain, and to stitch it up
with silk. Also Peter had great bruises on his arms and thighs, and his
back was hurt by that fall from the white charger with Morella in
his arms.

So it came about that most of that night he lay outworn, half-sleeping
and half-waking, and when at sunrise he struggled from his berth, it was
but to kneel by the side of Margaret and join her in her prayers that
her father might be rescued from the hands of these cruel priests
of Spain.

Now during the night Smith had brought his ship back with the tide, and
laid her under the shelter of those hulks whereof Peter had spoken,
having first painted out her name of _Margaret_, and in its place set
that of the _Santa Maria_, a vessel of about the same build and tonnage,
which, as they had heard, was expected in port. For this reason, or
because there were at that time many ships in the river, it happened
that none in authority noted her return, or if they did, neglected to
report the matter as one of no moment. Therefore, so far all went well.

According to the tale of Henriques, confirmed by what they had learned
otherwise, the great procession of the Act of Faith would turn on to the
quay at about eight o'clock, and pass along it for a hundred yards or so
only, before it wound away down a street leading to the _plaza_ where
the theatre was prepared, the sermon would be preached, the Mass
celebrated, and the "relaxed" placed in cages to be carried to the

At six in the morning Smith mustered those twelve men whom he had chosen
to help him in the enterprise, and Peter, with Margaret at his side,
addressed them in the cabin, telling them all the plan, and praying them
for the sake of their master and of the Lady Margaret, his daughter, to
do what men might to save one whom they loved and honoured from so
horrible a death.

They swore that they would, every one of them, for their English blood
was up, nor did they so much as speak of the great rewards that had been
promised to those who lived through this adventure, and to the families
of those who fell. Then they breakfasted, girded their swords and knives
about them, and put on their Spanish cloaks, though, to speak truth,
these lads of Essex and of London made but poor Spaniards. Now, at
length the boat was ready, and Peter, although he could scarcely stand,
desired to be carried into it that he might accompany them. But the
captain, Smith, to whom perhaps Margaret had been speaking, set down his
flat foot on the deck and said that he, who commanded there, would
suffer no such thing. A wounded man, he declared, would but cumber them
who had little room to spare in that small boat, and could be of no
service, either on land or water. Moreover, Master Peter's face was
known to thousands who had watched it yesterday, and would certainly be
recognised, whereas none would take note at such a time of a dozen
common sailors landed from some ship to see the show. Lastly, he would
do best to stop on board the vessel, where, if anything went wrong, they
must be short-handed enough, who, if they could, ought to get her away
to sea and across it with all speed.

Still Peter would have gone, till Margaret, throwing her arms about him,
asked him if he thought that she would be the better if she lost both
her father and her husband, as, if things miscarried, well might happen.
Then, being in pain and very weak, he yielded, and Smith, having given
his last directions to the mate, and shaken Peter and Margaret by the
hand, asking their prayers for all of them, descended with his twelve
men into the boat, and dropping down under shelter of the hulks, rowed
to the shore as though they came from some other vessel. Now the quay
was not more than a bowshot from them, and from a certain spot upon the
_Margaret_ there was a good view of it between the stern of one hulk and
the bow of another. Here, then, Peter and Margaret sat themselves down
behind the bulwark, and watched with fears such as cannot be told, while
a sharp-eyed seaman climbed to the crow's-nest on the mast, whence he
could see over much of the city, and even the old Moorish castle that
was then the Holy House of the Inquisition. Presently this man reported
that the procession had started, for he saw its banners and the people
crowding to the windows and to the roof-tops; also the cathedral bell
began to toll slowly. Then came a long, long wait, during which their
little knot of sailors, wearing the Spanish cloaks, appeared upon the
quay and mingled with the few folk that were gathered there, since the
most of the people were collected by thousands on the great _plaza_ or
in the adjacent streets.

At length, just as the cathedral clock struck eight, the "triumphant"
march, as it was called, began to appear upon the quay. First came a
body of soldiers with lances; then a crucifix, borne by a priest and
veiled in black crape; then a number of other priests, clad in
snow-white robes to symbolise their perfect purity. Next followed men
carrying wood or leather images of some man or woman who, by flight to a
foreign land or into the realms of Death, had escaped the clutches of
the Inquisition. After these marched other men in fours, each four of
them bearing a coffin that contained the body or bones of some dead
heretic, which, in the absence of his living person, like the effigies,
were to be committed to the flames as a token of what the Inquisition
would have done to him if it could--to enable it also to seize
his property.

Then came many penitents, their heads shaven, their feet bare, and clad,
some in dark-coloured cloaks, some in yellow robes, called the
_sanbenito_, which were adorned with a red cross. These were followed by
a melancholy band of "relaxed" heretics, doomed to the fire or
strangulation at the stake, and clothed in _zamarras_ of sheepskin,
painted all over with devils and the portraits of their own faces
surrounded by flames. These poor creatures wore also flame-adorned caps
called _corozas_, shaped like bishops' mitres, and were gagged with
blocks of wood, lest they should contaminate the populace by some
declaration of their heresy, while in their hands they bore tapers,
which the monks who accompanied them relighted from time to time if they
became extinguished.

Now the hearts of Peter and Margaret leaped within them, for at the end
of this hideous troop rode a man mounted on an ass, clothed in a
_zamarra_ and _coroza_, but with a noose about his neck. So the Fray
Henriques had told the truth, for without doubt this was John Castell.
Like people in a dream, they saw him advance in his garb of shame, and
after him, gorgeously attired, civil officers, inquisitors, and
familiars of noble rank, members of the Council of Inquisition, behind
whom was borne a flaunting banner, called the Holy Standard of
the Faith.

Now Castell was opposite to the little group of seamen, and, or so it
seemed, something went wrong with the harness of the ass on which he
sat, for it stopped, and a man in the garb of a secretary stepped to it,
apparently to attend to a strap, thus bringing all the procession
behind to a halt, while that in front proceeded off the quay and round
the corner of a street. Whatever it might be that had happened, it
necessitated the dismounting of the heretic, who was pulled roughly off
the brute's back, which, as though in joy at this riddance of its
burden, lifted its head and brayed loudly.

Men from the thin line of crowd that edged the quay came forward as
though to help, and among them were several in capes, such as were worn
by the sailors of the _Margaret_. The officers and grandees behind
shouted, "Forward!--forward!" whereon those attending to the ass hustled
it and its rider a little nearer to the water's edge, while the guards
ran back to explain what had happened. Then suddenly a confusion arose,
of which it was impossible to distinguish the cause, and next instant
Margaret and Peter, still gripping each other, saw the man who had been
seated on the ass being dragged rapidly down the steps of the quay, at
the foot of which lay the boat of the _Margaret_.

The mate at the helm saw also, for he blew his whistle, a sign at which
the anchor was slipped--there was no time to lift it--and men who were
waiting on the yards loosed the lashings of certain sails, so that
almost immediately the ship began to move.

Now they were fighting on the quay. The heretic was in the boat, and
most of the sailors; but others held back the crowd of priests and armed
familiars who strove to get at him. One, a priest with a sword in his
hand, slipped past them and tumbled into the boat also. At last all were
in save a single man, who was attacked by three adversaries--John Smith,
the captain. The oars were out, but his mates waited for him. He struck
with his sword, and some one fell. Then he turned to run. Two masked
familiars sprang at him, one landing on his back, one clinging to his
neck. With a desperate effort he cast himself into the water, dragging
them with him. One they saw no more, for Smith had stabbed him, the
other floated up near the boat, which already was some yards from the
quay, and a sailor battered him on the head with an oar, so that
he sank.

Smith had vanished also, and they thought he must be drowned. The
sailors thought it too, for they began to give way, when suddenly a
great brown hand appeared and clasped the stern-sheets, while a
bull-voice roared:

"Row on, lads, I'm right enough."

Row they did indeed, till the ashen oars bent like bows, only two of
them seized the officer who had sprung into the boat and flung him
screaming into the river, where he struggled a while, for he could not
swim, gripping at the air with his hands, then disappeared. The boat was
in mid-stream now, and shaping her course round the bow of the first
hulk beyond which the prow of the _Margaret_ began to appear, for the
wind was fresh, and she gathered way every moment.

"Let down the ladder, and make ready ropes," shouted Peter.

It was done, but not too soon, for next instant the boat was bumping on
their side. The sailors in her caught the ropes and hung on, while the
captain, Smith, half-drowned, clung to the stern-sheets, for the water
washed over his head.

"Save him first," cried Peter. A man, running down the ladder, threw a
noose to him, which Smith seized with one hand and by degrees worked
beneath his arms. Then they tackled on to it, and dragged him bodily
from the river to the deck, where he lay gasping and spitting out foam
and water. By now the ship was travelling swiftly, so swiftly that
Margaret was in an agony of fear lest the boat should be towed under
and sink.

But these sailor men knew their trade. By degrees they let the boat drop
back till her bow was abreast of the ladder. Then they helped Castell
forward. He gripped its rungs, and eager hands gripped him. Up he
staggered, step by step, till at length his hideous, fiend-painted cap,
his white face, whence the beard had been shaved, and his open mouth, in
which still was fixed the wooden gag, appeared above the bulwarks, as
the mate said afterwards, like that of a devil escaped from hell. They
lifted him over, and he sank fainting in his daughter's arms. Then one
by one the sailors came up after him--none were missing, though two had
been wounded, and were covered with blood. No, none were missing--God
had brought them, every one, safe back to the deck of the _Margaret_.

Smith, the captain, spat up the last of his river water and called for a
cup of wine, which he drank; while Peter and Margaret drew the accursed
gag from her father's mouth, and poured spirit down his throat. Shaking
the water from him like a great dog, but saying never a word, Smith
rolled to the helm and took it from the mate, for the navigation of the
river was difficult, and none knew it so well as he. Now they were
abreast the famous Golden Tower, and a big gun was fired at them; but
the shot went wide. "Look!" said Margaret, pointing to horsemen
galloping southwards along the river's bank.

"Yes," said Peter, "they go to warn the ports. God send that the wind
holds, for we must fight our way to sea."

The wind did hold, indeed it blew ever more strongly from the north; but
oh! that was a long, evil day. Hour after hour they sped forward down
the widening river; now past villages, where knots of people waved
weapons at them as they went; now by desolate marshes, plains, and banks
clothed with pine.

When they reached Bonanza the sun was low, and when they were off San
Lucar it had begun to sink. Out into the wide river mouth, where the
white waters tumbled on the narrow bar, rowed two great galleys to cut
them off, very swift galleys, which it seemed impossible to escape.

Margaret and Castell were sent below, the crew went to quarters, and
Peter crept stiffly aft to where the sturdy Smith stood at the helm,
which he would suffer no other man to touch. Smith looked at the sky, he
looked at the shore, and the safe, open sea beyond. Then he bade them
hoist more sail, all that she could carry, and looked grimly at the two
galleys lurking like deerhounds in a pass, that hung on their oars in
the strait channel, with the tumbling breakers on either side, through
which no ship could sail. "What will you do?" asked Peter. "Master
Peter," he answered between his teeth, "when you fought the Spaniard
yesterday I did not ask you what _you_ were going to do. Hold your
tongue, and leave me to my own trade."

The _Margaret_ was a swift ship, but never yet had she moved so
swiftly. Behind her shrilled the gale, for now it was no less. Her stout
masts bent like fishing poles, her rigging creaked and groaned beneath
the weight of the bellying canvas, her port bulwarks slipped along
almost level with the water, so that Peter must lie down on the deck,
for stand he could not, and watch it running by within three feet
of him.

The galleys drew up right across her path. Half a mile away they lay bow
by bow, knowing well that no ship could pass the foaming shallows; lay
bow by bow, waiting to board and cut down this little English crew when
the _Margaret_ shortened sail, as shorten sail she must. Smith yelled an
order to the mate, and presently, red in the setting sun, out burst the
flag of England upon the mainmast top, a sight at which the sailors
cheered. He shouted another order, and up ran the last jib, so that now
from time to time the port bulwarks dipped beneath the sea, and Peter
felt salt water stinging his sore back.

Thus did the _Margaret_ shorten sail, and thus did she yield her to the
great galleys of Spain.

The captains of the galleys hung on. Was this foreigner mad, or ignorant
of the river channel, they wondered, that he would sink with every soul
there upon the bar? They hung on, waiting for that leopard flag and
those bursting sails to come down; but they never stirred; only straight
at them rushed the _Margaret_ like a bull. She was not two furlongs
away, and she held dead upon her course, till at last those galleys saw
_that she would not sink alone_. Like a bull with shut eyes she held
dead upon her furious course!

Confusion arose upon the Spanish ships, whistles were blown, men
shouted, overseers ran down the planks flogging the slaves, lifted oars
shone red in the light of the dying sun as they beat the water wildly.
The prows began to back and separate, five feet, ten feet, a dozen feet
perhaps; then straight into that tiny streak of open water, like a stone
from the hand of the slinger, like an arrow from a bow, rushed the
wind-flung _Margaret_.

What happened? Go ask it of the fishers of San Lucar and the pirates of
Bonanza, where the tale has been told for generations. The great oars
snapped like reeds, the slaves were thrown in crushed and mangled heaps,
the tall deck of the port galley was ripped out of her like rent paper
by the stout yards of the stooping _Margaret_, the side of the starboard
galley rolled up like a shaving before a plane, and the _Margaret_
rushed through.

Smith, the captain, looked aft to where, ere they sank, the two great
ships, like wounded swans, rolled and fluttered on the foaming bar. Then
he put his helm about, called the carpenter, and asked what water
she made.

"None, Sir," he answered; "but she will want new tarring. It was oak
against eggshells, and we had the speed."

"Good!" said Smith, "shallows on either side; life or death, and I
thought I could make room. Send the mate to the helm. I'll have
a sleep."

Then the sun vanished beneath the roaring open sea, and, escaped from
all the power of Spain, the _Margaret_ turned her scarred and splintered
bow for Ushant and for England.


Ten years had gone by since Captain Smith took the good ship _Margaret_
across the bar of the Guadalquiver in a very notable fashion. It was
late May in Essex, and all the woods were green, and all the birds sang,
and all the meadows were bright with flowers. Down in the lovely vale of
Dedham there was a long, low house with many gables--a charming old
house of red brick and timbers already black with age. It stood upon a
little hill, backed with woods, and from it a long avenue of ancient
oaks ran across the park to the road which led to Colchester and London.
Down that avenue on this May afternoon an aged, white-haired man, with
quick black eyes, was walking, and with him three children--very
beautiful children--a boy of about nine and two little girls, who clung
to his hand and garments and pestered him with questions.

"Where are we going, Grandfather?" asked one little girl.

"To see Captain Smith, my dear," he answered.

"I don't like Captain Smith," said the other little girl; "he is so fat,
and says nothing."

"I do," broke in the boy, "he gave me a fine knife to use when I am a
sailor, and Mother does, and Father, yes, and Grandad too, because he
saved him when the cruel Spaniards wanted to put him in the fire. Don't
you, Grandad?"

"Yes, my dear," answered the old man. "Look! there is a squirrel
running over the grass; see if you can catch it before it reaches
that tree."

Off went the children at full pelt, and the tree being a low one, began
to climb it after the squirrel. Meanwhile John Castell, for it was he,
turned through the park gate and walked to a little house by the
roadside, where a stout man sat upon a bench contemplating nothing in
particular. Evidently he expected his visitor, for he pointed to the
place beside him, and, as Castell sat down, said:

"Why didn't you come yesterday, Master?"

"Because of my rheumatism, friend," he answered. "I got it first in the
vaults of that accursed Holy House at Seville, and it grows on me year
by year. They were very damp and cold, those vaults," he added

"Many people found them hot enough," grunted Smith, "also, there was
generally a good fire at the end of them. Strange thing that we should
never have heard any more of that business. I suppose it was because our
Margaret was such a favourite with Queen Isabella who didn't want to
raise questions with England, or stir up dirty water."

"Perhaps," answered Castell. "The water _was_ dirty, wasn't it?"

"Dirty as a Thames mud-bank at low tide. Clever woman, Isabella. No one
else would have thought of making a man ridiculous as she did by Morella
when she gave his life to Betty, and promised and vowed on his behalf
that he would acknowledge her as his lady. No fear of any trouble from
him after that, in the way of plots for the Crown, or things of that
sort. Why, he must have been the laughing-stock of the whole land--and
a laughing-stock never does anything. You remember the Spanish saying,
'King's swords cut and priests' fires burn, but street-songs kill
quickest!' I should like to learn more of what has become of them all,
though, wouldn't you, Master? Except Bernaldez, of course, for he's been
safe in Paris these many years, and doing well there, they say."

"Yes," answered Castell, with a little smile--"that is, unless I had to
go to Spain to find out."

Just then the three children came running up, bursting through the gate
all together.

"Mind my flower-bed, you little rogues," shouted Captain Smith, shaking
his stick at them, whereat they got behind him and made faces.

"Where's the squirrel, Peter?" asked Castell.

"We hunted it out of the tree, Grandad, and right across the grass, and
got round it by the edge of the brook, and then--"

"Then what? Did you catch it?"

"No, Grandad, for when we thought we had it sure, it jumped into the
water and swam away."

"Other people in a fix have done that before," said Castell, laughing,
and bethinking him of a certain river quay.

"It wasn't fair," cried the boy indignantly. "Squirrels shouldn't swim,
and if I can catch it I will put it in a cage."

"I think that squirrel will stop in the woods for the rest of its life,

"Grandad!--Grandad!" called out the youngest child from the gate,
whither she had wandered, being weary of the tale of the squirrel,"
there are a lot of people coming down the road on horses, such fine
people. Come and see."

This news excited the curiosity of the old gentlemen, for not many fine
people came to Dedham. At any rate both of them rose, somewhat stiffly,
and walked to the gate to look. Yes, the child was right, for there,
sure enough, about two hundred yards away, advanced an imposing
cavalcade. In front of it, mounted on a fine horse, sat a still finer
lady, a very large and handsome lady, dressed in black silks, and
wearing a black lace veil that hung from her head. At her side was
another lady, much muffled up as though she found the climate cold, and
riding between them, on a pony, a gallant looking little boy. After
these came servants, male and female, six or eight of them, and last of
all a great wain, laden with baggage, drawn by four big Flemish horses.

"Now, whom have we here?" ejaculated Castell, staring at them.

Captain Smith stared too, and sniffed at the wind as he had often done
upon his deck on a foggy morning.

"I seem to smell Spaniards," he said, "which is a smell I don't like.
Look at their rigging. Now, Master Castell, of whom does that barque
with all her sails set remind you?"

Castell shook his head doubtfully.

"I seem to remember," went on Smith, "a great girl decked out like a
maypole running across white sand in that Place of Bulls at Seville--but
I forgot, you weren't there, were you?"

Now a loud, ringing voice was heard speaking in Spanish, and commanding
some one to go to yonder house and inquire where was the gate to the
Old Hall. Then Castell knew at once.

"It is Betty," he said. "By the beard of Abraham, it is Betty."

"I think so too; but don't talk of Abraham, Master. He is a dangerous
man, Abraham, in these very Christian lands; say, 'By the Keys of St.
Peter,' or, 'By St. Paul's infirmities.'"

"Child," broke in Castell, turning to one of the little girls, "run up
to the Hall and tell your father and mother that Betty has come, and
brought half Spain with her. Quickly now, and remember the
name, _Betty!_"

The child departed, wondering, by the back way; while Castell and Smith
walked towards the strangers.

"Can we assist you, Señora?" asked the former in Spanish.

"Marchioness of Morella, _if_ you please--" she began in the same
language, then suddenly added in English, "Why, bless my eyes! If it
isn't my old master, John Castell, with white wool instead of black!"

"It came white after my shaving by a sainted barber in the Holy House,"
said Castell. "But come off that tall horse of yours, Betty, my dear--I
beg your pardon--most noble and highly born Marchioness of Morella, and
give me a kiss."

"That I will, twenty, if you like," she answered, arriving in his arms
so suddenly from on high, that had it not been for the sturdy support of
Smith behind, they would both of them have rolled upon the ground.

"Whose are those children?" she asked, when she had kissed Castell and
shaken Smith by the hand. "But no need to ask, they have got my cousin
Margaret's eyes and Peter's long nose. How are they?" she added

"You will see for yourself in a minute or two. Come, send on your people
and baggage to the Hall, though where they will stow them all I don't
know, and walk with us."

Betty hesitated, for she had been calculating upon the effect of a
triumphal entry in full state. But at that moment there appeared
Margaret and Peter themselves--Margaret, a beautiful matron with a child
in her arms, running, and Peter, looking much as he had always been,
spare, long of limb, stern but for the kindly eyes, striding away
behind, and after him sundry servants and the little girl Margaret.

Then there arose a veritable babel of tongues, punctuated by embracings;
but in the end the retinue and the baggage were got off up the drive,
followed by the children and the little Spanish-looking boy, with whom
they had already made friends, leaving only Betty and her closely
muffled-up attendant. This attendant Peter contemplated for a while, as
though there were something familiar to him in her general air.

Apparently she observed his interest, for as though by accident she
moved some of the wrappings that hid her face, revealing a single soft
and lustrous eye and a few square inches of olive-coloured cheek. Then
Peter knew her at once.

"How are you, Inez?" he said, stretching out his hand with a smile, for
really he was delighted to see her.

"As well as a poor wanderer in a strange and very damp country can be,
Don Peter," she answered in her languorous voice, "and certainly
somewhat the better for seeing an old friend whom last she met in a
certain baker's shop. Do you remember?"

"Remember!" answered Peter. "It is not a thing I am likely to forget.
Inez, what became of Fray Henriques? I have heard several
different stories."

"One never can be sure," she answered as she uncovered her smiling red
lips; "there are so many dungeons in that old Moorish Holy House, and
elsewhere, that it is impossible to keep count of their occupants,
however good your information. All I know is that he got into trouble
over that business, poor man. Suspicions arose about his conduct in the
procession which the captain here will recall," and she pointed to
Smith. "Also, it is very dangerous for men in such positions to visit
Jewish quarters and to write incautious letters--no, not the one you
think of; I kept faith--but others, afterwards, begging for it back
again, some of which miscarried."

"Is he dead then?" asked Peter.

"Worse, I think," she answered--"a living death, the 'Punishment of the

"Poor wretch!" said Peter, with a shudder.

"Yes," remarked Inez reflectively, "few doctors like their own

"I say, Inez," said Peter, nodding his head towards Betty, "that marquis
isn't coming here, is he?"

"In the spirit, perhaps, Don Peter, not otherwise."

"So he is really dead? What killed him?"

"Laughter, I think, or, rather, being laughed at. He got quite well of
the hurts you gave him, and then, of course, he had to keep the queen's
gage, and take the most noble lady yonder, late Betty, as his
marchioness. He couldn't do less, after she beat you off him with your
own sword and nursed him back to life. But he never heard the last of
it. They made songs about him in the streets, and would ask him how his
godmother, Isabella, was, because she had promised and vowed on his
behalf; also, whether the marchioness had broken any lances for his sake
lately, and so forth."

"Poor man!" said Peter again, in tones of the deepest sympathy. "A cruel
fate; I should have done better to kill him."

"Much; but don't say so to the noble Betty, who thinks that he had a
very happy married life under her protecting care. Really, he ate his
heart out till even I, who hated him, was sorry. Think of it! One of the
proudest men in Spain, and the most gallant, a nephew of the king, a
pillar of the Church, his sovereigns' plenipotentiary to the Moors, and
on secret matters--the common mock of the vulgar, yes, and of the
great too!"

"The great! Which of them?"

"Nearly all, for the queen set the fashion--I wonder why she hated him
so?" Inez added, looking shrewdly at Peter; then without waiting for an
answer, went on: "She did it very cleverly, by always making the most of
the most honourable Betty in public, calling her near to her, talking
with her, admiring her English beauty, and so forth, and what her
Majesty did, everybody else did, until my exalted mistress nearly went
off her head, so full was she of pride and glory. As for the marquis, he
fell ill, and after the taking of Granada went to live there quietly.
Betty went with him, for she was a good wife, and saved lots of money.
She buried him a year ago, for he died slow, and gave him one of the
finest tombs in Spain--it isn't finished yet. That is all the story. Now
she has brought her boy, the young marquis, to England for a year or
two, for she has a very warm heart, and longed to see you all. Also, she
thought she had better go away a while, for her son's sake. As for me,
now that Morella is dead, I am head of the household--secretary, general
purveyor of intelligence, and anything else you like at a good salary."

"You are not married, I suppose?" asked Peter.

"No," Inez answered; "I saw so much of men when I was younger that I
seem to have had enough of them. Or perhaps," she went on, fixing that
mild and lustrous eye upon him, "there was one of them whom I liked too
well to wish----"

She paused, for they had crossed the drawbridge and arrived opposite to
the Old Hall. The gorgeous Betty and the fair Margaret, accompanied by
the others, and talking rapidly, had passed through the wide doorway
into its spacious vestibule. Inez looked after them, and perceived,
standing like a guard at the foot of the open stair, that scarred suit
of white armour and riven shield blazoned with the golden falcon,
Isabella's gift, in which Peter had fought and conquered the Marquis of
Morella. Then she stepped back and contemplated the house critically.

At each end of it rose a stone tower, built for the purposes of defence,
and all around ran a deep moat. Within the circle of this moat, and
surrounded by poplars and ancient yews, on the south side of the Hall
lay a walled pleasaunce, or garden, of turf pierced by paths and planted
with flowering hawthorns and other shrubs, and at the end of it, almost
hidden in drooping willows, a stone basin of water. Looking at it, Inez
saw at once that so far as the circumstances of climate and situation
would allow, Peter, in the laying out of this place, had copied another
in the far-off, southern city of Granada, even down to the details of
the steps and seats. She turned to him and said innocently:

"Sir Peter, are you minded to walk with me in that garden this pleasant
evening? I do not see any window in yonder tower."

Peter turned red as the scar across his face, and laughed as he

"There may be one for all that. Get you into the house, dear Inez, for
none can be more welcome there; but I walk no more alone with you
in gardens."


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