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In The Palace Of The King by F. Marion Crawford

Part 5 out of 5

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But Mendoza did not answer. His arm dropped by his side, and his face
grew white and stony. She was asking him to give up the King's secret,
to keep which he was giving his life. He felt that it would be treason
to tell even her. And besides, she would not keep the secret--what woman
could, what daughter would? It must go out of the world with him, if it
was to be safe. He glanced at her and saw her face ravaged by an hour's
grief. Yet she would not mourn Don John the less if she knew whose hand
had done the deed. It could make but a little difference to her, though
to himself that difference would be great, if she knew that he died

And then began a struggle fierce and grim, that tore his soul and
wounded his heart as no death agony could have hurt him. Since he had
judged her unjustly, since it had all been a hideous dream, since she
was still the child that had been all in all to him throughout her life,
since all was changed, he did not wish to die, he bore the dead man no
hatred, it was no soothing satisfaction to his outraged heart to know
him dead of a sword wound in the breast, far away in the room where they
had left him, there was no fierce regret that he had not driven the
thrust himself. The man was as innocent as the innocent girl, and he
himself, as innocent as both, was to be led out to die to shield the
King--no more. His life was to be taken for that only, and he no longer
set its value at naught nor wished it over. He was the mere scapegoat,
to suffer for his master's crime, since crime it was and nothing better.
And since he was willing to bear the punishment, or since there was now
no escape from it, had he not at least the human right to proclaim his
innocence to the only being he really loved? It would be monstrous to
deny it. What could she do, after all, even if she knew the truth?
Nothing. No one would dare to believe her if she accused the King. She
would be shut up in a convent as a mad woman, but in any case, she would
certainly disappear to end her life in some religious house as soon as
he was dead. Poor girl--she had loved Don John with all her heart--what
could the world hold for her, even if the disgrace of her father's death
were not to shut her out of the world altogether, as it inevitably must.
She would not live long, but she would live in the profoundest sorrow.
It would be an alleviation, almost the greatest possible, to know that
her father's hand was not stained by such a deed.

The temptation to speak out was overwhelming, and he knew that the time
was short. At any moment Ruy Gomez might open the door, and bid him part
from her, and there would be small chance for him of seeing her again.
He stood uncertain, with bent head and folded arms, and she watched him,
trying to bring herself to touch his hand again and bear his kiss.

His loyalty to the King, that was like a sort of madness, stood between
him and the words he longed to say. It was the habit of his long
soldier's life, unbending as the corslet he wore and enclosing his soul
as the steel encased his body, proof against every cruelty, every
unkindness, every insult. It was better to die a traitor's death for the
King's secret than to live for his own honour. So it had always seemed
to him, since he had been a boy and had learned to fight under the great
Emperor. But now he knew that he wavered as he had never done in the
most desperate charge, when life was but a missile to be flung in the
enemy's face, and found or not, when the fray was over. There was no
intoxication of fury now, there was no far ring of glory in the air,
there was no victory to be won. The hard and hideous fact stared him in
the face, that he was to die like a malefactor by the hangman's hand,
and that the sovereign who had graciously deigned to accept the
sacrifice had tortured him for nearly half an hour without mercy in the
presence of an inferior, in order to get a few facts on paper which
might help his own royal credit. And as if that were not enough, his own
daughter was to live after him, believing that he had cruelly murdered
the man she most dearly loved. It was more than humanity could bear.

His brow unbent, his arms unfolded themselves, and he held them out to
Dolores with a smile almost gentle.

"There is no blood on these hands, my little girl," he said tenderly. "I
did not do it, child. Let me hold you in my arms once, and kiss you
before I go. We are both innocent--we can bless one another before we
part for ever."

The pure, grey eyes opened wide in amazement. Dolores could hardly
believe her ears, as she made a step towards him, and then stopped,
shrinking, and then made one step more. Her lips moved and wondering
words came to him, so low that he could hardly understand, save that she
questioned him.

"You did not do it!" she breathed. "You did not kill him after all? But

Still she hesitated, though she came slowly nearer, and a faint light
warmed her sorrowful face.

"You must try to guess who and why," he said, in a tone as low as her
own. "I must not tell you that."

"I cannot guess," she answered; but she was close to him now, and she
had taken one of his hands softly in both her own, while she gazed into
his eyes. "How can I understand unless you tell me? Is it so great a
secret that you must die for it, and never tell it? Oh, father, father!
Are you sure--quite sure?"

"He was dead already when I came into the room," Mendoza answered. "I
did not even see him hurt."

"But then--yes--then"--her voice sank to a whisper--"then it was the

He saw the words on her lips rather than heard them, and she saw in his
face that she was right. She dropped his hand and threw her arms round
his neck, pressing her bosom to his breastplate; and suddenly her love
for him awoke, and she began to know how she might have loved him if she
had known him through all the years that were gone.

"It cannot be that he will let you die!" she cried softly. "You shall
not die!" she cried again, with sudden strength, and her light frame
shook his as if she would wrench him back from inevitable fate.

"My little girl," he answered, most tenderly clasping her to him, and
most thoughtfully, lest his armour should hurt her, "I can die happy
now, for I have found all of you again."

"You shall not die! You shall not die!" she cried. "I will not let you
go--they must take me, too--"

"No power can save me now, my darling," he answered. "But it does not
matter, since you know. It will be easy now."

She could only hold him with her small hands, and say over and over
again that she would not let him go.

"Ah! why have you never loved me before in all these years?" he cried.
"It was my fault--all my fault."

"I love you now with all my heart," she answered, "and I will save you,
even from the King; and you and I and Inez will go far away, and you two
shall comfort me and love me till I go to him."

Mendoza shook his head sadly, looking over her shoulder as he held her,
for he knew that there was no hope now. Had he known, or half guessed,
but an hour or two ago, he would have turned on his heel from the door
of Don John's chamber, and he would have left the King to bear the blame
or shift it as he could.

"It is too late, Dolores. God bless you, my dear, dear child! It will
soon be over--two days at most, for the people will cry out for the
blood of Don John's murderer; and when they see mine they will be
satisfied. It is too late now. Good-by, my little girl, good-by! The
blessing of all heaven be on your dear head!"

Dolores nestled against him, as she had never done before, with the
feeling that she had found something that had been wanting in her life,
at the very moment when the world, with all it held for her, was
slipping over the edge of eternity.

"I will not leave you," she cried again. "They shall take me to your
prison, and I will stay with you and take care of you, and never leave
you; and at last I shall save your life, and then--"

The door of the corridor opened, and she saw Ruy Gomez standing in the
entrance, as if he were waiting. His face was calm and grave as usual,
but she saw a profound pity in his eyes.

"No, no!" she cried to him, "not yet--one moment more!"

But Mendoza turned his head at her words, looking over his shoulder, and
he saw the Prince also.

"I am ready," he said briefly, and he tried to take Dolores' hands from
his neck. "It is time," he said to her. "Be brave, my darling! We have
found each other at last. It will not be long before we are together for

He kissed her tenderly once more, and loosed her hold, putting her two
hands together and kissing them also.

"I will not say good-by," she said. "It is not good-by--it shall not be.
I shall be with you soon."

His eyes lingered upon hers for a moment, and then he broke away,
setting his teeth lest he should choke and break down. He opened the
door and presented himself to the halberdiers. Dolores heard his
familiar voice give the words of command.

"Close up! Forward, march!"

The heavy tramp she knew so well began at once, and echoed along the
outer entries, growing slowly less distinct till it was only a distant
and rumbling echo, and then died away altogether. Her hand was still on
the open door, and Ruy Gomez was standing beside her. He gently drew her
away, and closed the door again. She let him lead her to a chair, and
sat down where she had sat before. But this time she did not lean back
exhausted, with half-closed eyes,--she rested her elbow on her knee and
her chin in her hand, and she tried to think connectedly to a
conclusion. She remembered all the details of the past hours one by one,
and she felt that the determination to save her father had given her
strength to live.

"Don Ruy Gomez," she said at last, looking up to the tall old nobleman,
who stood by the brazier warming his hands again, "can I see the King

"That is more than I can promise," answered the Prince. "I have asked an
audience for you, and the chamberlain will bring word presently whether
his Majesty is willing to see you. But if you are admitted, I cannot
tell whether Perez will be there or not. He generally is. His presence
need make no difference to you. He is an excellent young man, full of
heart. I have great confidence in him,--so much so that I recommended
him to his Majesty as Secretary. I am sure that he will do all he can to
be of use to you."

Dolores looked up incredulously, and with a certain wonder at the
Prince's extreme simplicity. Yet he had been married ten years to the
clever woman who ruled him and Perez and King Philip, and made each one
believe that she was devoted to him only, body and soul. Of the three,
Perez alone may have guessed the truth, but though it was degrading
enough, he would not let it stand in the way of his advancement; and in
the end it was he who escaped, leaving her to perish, the victim of the
King's implacable anger, Dolores could not help shaking her head in
answer to the Prince of Eboli's speech.

"People are very unjust to Perez," he said. "But the King trusts him. If
he is there, try to conciliate him, for he has much influence with his

Dolores said nothing, and resuming her attitude, returned to her sad
meditations, and to the study of some immediate plan. But she could
think of no way. Her only fixed intention was to see the King himself.
Ruy Gomez could do no more to help her than he had done already, and
that indeed was not little, since it was to his kindly impulse that she
owed her meeting with her father.

"And if Perez is not inclined to help Don Diego," said the Prince, after
a long pause which had not interrupted the slow progression of, his
kindly thought, "I will request my wife to speak to him. I have often
noticed that the Princess can make Perez do almost anything she wishes.
Women are far cleverer than men, my dear--they have ways we do not
understand. Yes, I will interest my wife in the affair. It would be a
sad thing if your father--"

The old man stopped short, and Dolores wondered vaguely what he had been
going to say. Ruy Gomez was a very strange compound of almost childlike
and most honourable simplicity, and of the experienced wisdom with
regard to the truth of matters in which he was not concerned, which
sometimes belongs to very honourable and simple men.

"You do not believe that my father is guilty," said Dolores, boldly
asserting what she suspected.

"My dear child," answered Ruy Gomez, twisting his rings on his fingers
as he spread his hands above the coals in the brazier, "I have lived in
this court for fifty years, and I have learned in that time that where
great matters are at stake those who do not know the whole truth are
often greatly deceived by appearances. I know nothing of the real matter
now, but it would not surprise me if a great change took place before
to-morrow night. A man who has committed a crime so horrible as the one
your father confessed before us all rarely finds it expedient to make
such a confession, and a young girl, my dear, who has really been a
little too imprudently in love with a royal Prince, would be a great
deal too wise to make a dramatic statement of her fault to the assembled
Grandees of Spain."

He looked across at Dolores and smiled gently. But she only shook her
head gravely in answer, though she wondered at what he said, and
wondered, too, whether there might not be a great many persons in the
court who thought as he did. She was silent, too, because it hurt her to
talk when she could not draw breath without remembering that what she
had lived for was lying dead in that dim room on the upper story.

The door opened, and a chamberlain entered the room.

"His Majesty is pleased to receive Dona Dolores de Mendoza, in private
audience," he said.

Ruy Gomez rose and led Dolores out into the corridor.

* * * * *


Dolores had prepared no speech with which to appeal to the King, and she
had not counted upon her own feelings towards him when she found herself
in the room where Mendoza had been questioned, and heard the door closed
behind her by the chamberlain who had announced her coming. She stood
still a moment, dazzled by the brilliant lights after having been so
long in the dimmer waiting room. She had never before been in the King's
study, and she had fancied it very different from what it really was
when she had tried to picture to herself the coming interview. She had
supposed the room small, sombre, littered with books and papers, and
cold; it was, on the contrary, so spacious as to be almost a hall, it
was brightly illuminated and warmed by the big wood fire. Magnificent
tapestries covered the walls with glowing colour, and upon one of these,
in barbaric bad taste, was hung a single great picture by Titian,
Philip's favourite master. Dolores blushed as she recognized in the face
of the insolent Venus the features of the Princess of Eboli. Prom his
accustomed chair, the King could see this painting. Everywhere in the
room there were rich objects that caught and reflected the light, things
of gold and silver, of jade and lapis lazuli, in a sort of tasteless
profusion that detracted from the beauty of each, and made Dolores feel
that she had been suddenly transported out of her own element into
another that was hard to breathe and in which it was bad to live. It
oppressed her, and though her courage was undiminished, the air of the
place seemed to stifle her thought and speech.

As she entered she saw the King in profile, seated in his great chair at
some distance from the fire, but looking at it steadily. He did not
notice her presence at first. Antonio Perez sat at the table, busily
writing, and he only glanced at Dolores sideways when he heard the door
close after her. She sank almost to the ground as she made the first
court curtsey before advancing, and she came forward into the light. As
her skirt swept the ground a second time, Philip looked slowly round,
and his dull stare followed her as she came round in a quarter of a wide
circle and curtsied a third time immediately in front of him.

She was very beautiful, as she stood waiting for him to speak, and
meeting his gaze fearlessly with a look of cold contempt in her white
face such as no living person had ever dared to turn to him, while the
light of anger burned in her deep grey eyes. But for the presence of the
Secretary, she would have spoken first, regardless of court ceremony.
Philip looked at her attentively, mentally comparing her with his young
Queen's placidly dull personality and with the Princess of Eboli's fast
disappearing and somewhat coarse beauty. For the Princess had changed
much since Titian had painted his very flattering picture, and though
she was only thirty years of age, she was already the mother of many
children. Philip stared steadily at the beautiful girl who stood waiting
before him, and he wondered why she had never seemed so lovely to him
before. There was a half morbid, half bitter savour in what he felt,
too,--he had just condemned the beauty's father to death, and she must
therefore hate him with all her heart. It pleased him to think of that;
she was beautiful and he stared at her long.

"Be seated, Dona Dolores," he said at last, in a muffled voice that was
not harsh. "I am glad that you have come, for I have much to say to

Without lifting his wrist from the arm of the chair on which it rested,
the King moved his hand, and his long forefinger pointed to a low
cushioned stool that was placed near him. Dolores came forward
unwillingly and sat down. Perez watched the two thoughtfully, and forgot
his writing. He did not remember that any one excepting the Princess of
Eboli had been allowed to be seated in the King's study. The Queen never
came there. Perez' work exempted him in private, of course, from much of
the tedious ceremonial upon which Philip insisted. Dolores sat upon the
edge of the stool, very erect, with her hands folded on her knees.

"Dona Dolores is pale," observed the King. "Bring a cordial, Perez, or a
glass of Oporto wine."

"I thank your Majesty," said the young girl quickly. "I need nothing."

"I will be your physician," answered Philip, very suavely. "I shall
insist upon your taking the medicine I prescribe."

He did not turn his eyes from her as Perez brought a gold salver and
offered Dolores the glass. It was impossible to refuse, so she lifted it
to her lips and sipped a little.

"I thank your Majesty," she said again. "I thank you, sir," she said
gravely to Perez as she set down the glass, but she did not raise her
eyes to his face as she spoke any more than she would have done if he
had been a footman.

"I have much to say to you, and some questions to ask of you," the King
began, speaking very slowly, but with extreme suavity.

He paused, and coughed a little, but Dolores said nothing. Then he began
to look at her again, and while he spoke he steadily examined every
detail of her appearance till his inscrutable gaze had travelled from
her headdress to the points of her velvet slippers, and finally remained
fixed upon her mouth in a way that disturbed her even more than the
speech he made. Perez had resumed his seat.

"In my life," he began, speaking of himself quite without formality, "I
have suffered more than most men, in being bereaved of the persons to
whom I have been most sincerely attached. The most fortunate and
successful sovereign in the world has been and is the most unhappy man
in his kingdom. One after another, those I have loved have been taken
from me, until I am almost alone in the world that is so largely mine. I
suppose you cannot understand that, my dear, for my sorrows began before
you were born. But they have reached their crown and culmination to-day
in the death of my dear brother."

He paused, watching her mouth, and he saw that she was making a
superhuman effort to control herself, pressing the beautiful lips
together, though they moved gainfully in spite of her, and visibly lost

"Perez," he said after a moment, "you may go and take some rest. I will
send for you when I need you."

The Secretary rose, bowed low, and left the room by a small masked door
in a corner. The King waited till he saw it close before he spoke again.
His tone changed a little then and his words came quickly, as if he felt
here constraint.

"I feel," he said, "that we are united by a common calamity, my dear. I
intend to take you under my most particular care and protection from
this very hour. Yes, I know!" he held up his hand o deprecate any
interruption, for Dolores seemed about to speak. "I know why you come to
me, you wish to intercede for your father. That is natural, and you are
right to come to me yourself, for I would rather hear your voice than
that of another speaking for you, and I would rather grant any mercy in
my power to you directly than to some personage of the court who would
be seeking his own interest as much as yours."

"I ask justice, not mercy, Sire," said Dolores, in a firm, low voice,
and the fire lightened in her eyes.

"Your father shall have both," answered Philip, "for they are

"He needs no mercy," returned the young girl, "for he has done no harm.
Your Majesty knows that as well as I."

"If I knew that, my dear, your father would not be under arrest. I
cannot guess what you know or do not know--"

"I know the truth." She spoke so confidently that the King's expression
changed a little.

"I wish I did," he answered, with as much suavity as ever. "But tell me
what you think you know about this matter. You may help me to sift it,
and then I shall be the better able to help you, if such a thing be
possible. What do you know?"

Dolores leaned forward toward him from her seat, almost rising as she
lowered her voice to a whisper, her eyes fixed on his face.

"I was close behind the door your Majesty wished to open," she said. "I
heard every word; I heard your sword drawn and I heard Don John
fall--and then it was some time before I heard my father's voice, taking
the blame upon himself, lest it should be said that the King had
murdered his own brother in his room, unarmed. Is that the truth, or

While she was speaking, a greenish hue overspread Philip's face, ghastly
in the candlelight. He sat upright in his chair, his hands straining on
its arms and pushing, as if he would have got farther back if he could.
He had foreseen everything except that Dolores had been in the next
room, for his secret spies had informed him through Perez that her
father had kept her a prisoner during the early part of the evening and
until after supper.

"When you were both gone," Dolores continued, holding him under her
terrible eyes, "I came in, and I found him dead, with the wound in his
left breast, and he was unarmed, murdered without a chance for his life.
There is blood upon my dress where it touched his--the blood of the man
I loved, shed by you. Ah, he was right to call you coward, and he died
for me, because you said things of me that no loving man would bear. He
was right to call you coward--it was well said--it was the last word he
spoke, and I shall not forget it. He had borne everything you heaped
upon himself, your insults, your scorn of his mother, but he would not
let you cast a slur upon my name, and if you had not killed him out of
sheer cowardice, he would have struck you in the face. He was a man! And
then my father took the blame to save you from the monstrous accusation,
and that all might believe him guilty he told the lie that saved you
before them all. Do I know the truth? Is one word of that not true?"

She had quite risen now and stood before him like an accusing angel. And
he, who was seldom taken unawares, and was very hard to hurt, leaned
back and suffered, slowly turning his head from side to side against the
back of the high carved chair.

"Confess that it is true!" she cried, in concentrated tones. "Can you
not even find courage for that? You are not the King now, you are your
brother's murderer, and the murderer of the man I loved, whose wife I
should have been to-morrow. Look at me, and confess that I have told the
truth. I am a Spanish woman, and I would not see my country branded
before the world with the shame of your royal murders, and if you will
confess and save my father, I will keep your secret for my country's
sake. But if not--then you must either kill me here, as you slew him, or
by the God that made you and the mother that bore you, I will tell all
Spain what you are, and the men who loved Don John of Austria shall rise
and take your blood for his blood, though it be blood royal, and you
shall die, as you killed, like the coward you are!"

The King's eyes were closed, and still his great pale head moved slowly
from side to side; for he was suffering, and the torture of mind he had
made Mendoza bear was avenged already. But he was silent.

"Will you not speak?" asked the young girl, with blazing eyes. "Then
find some weapon and kill me here before I go, for I shall not wait till
you find many words."

She was silent, and she stood upright in the act to go. He made no
sound, and she moved towards the door, stood still, then moved again and
then again, pausing for his answer at each step. He heard her, but could
not bring himself to speak the words she demanded of him. She began to
walk quickly. Her hand was almost on the door when he raised himself by
the arms of his chair, and cried out to her in a frightened voice:--

"No, no! Stay here--you must not go--what do you want me to say?"

She advanced a step again, and once more stood still and met his scared
eyes as he turned his face towards her.

"Say, 'You have spoken the truth,'" she answered, dictating to him as if
she were the sovereign and he a guilty subject.

She waited a moment and then moved as if she would go out.

"Stay--yes--it is true--I did it--for God's mercy do not betray me!"

He almost screamed the words out to her, half rising, his body bent, his
face livid in his extreme fear. She came slowly back towards him,
keeping her eyes upon him as if he were some dangerous wild animal that
she controlled by her look alone.

"That is not all," she said. "That was for me, that I might hear the
words from your own lips. There is something more."

"What more do you want of me?" asked Philip, in thick tones, leaning
back exhausted in his chair.

"My father's freedom and safety," answered Dolores. "I must have an
order for his instant release. He can hardly have reached his prison
yet. Send for him. Let him come here at once, as a free man."

"That is impossible," replied Philip. "He has confessed the deed before
the whole court--he cannot possibly be set at liberty without a trial.
You forget what you are asking--indeed you forget yourself altogether
too much."

He was gathering his dignity again, by force of habit, as his terror
subsided, but Dolores was too strong for him.

"I am not asking anything of your Majesty; I am dictating terms to my
lover's murderer," she said proudly.

"This is past bearing, girl!" cried Philip hoarsely. "You are out of
your mind--I shall call servants to take you away to a place of safety.
We shall see what you will do then. You shall not impose your insolence
upon me any longer."

Dolores reflected that it was probably in his power to carry out the
threat, and to have her carried off by the private door through which
Perez had gone out. She saw in a flash how great her danger was, for she
was the only witness against him, and if he could put her out of the way
in a place of silence, he could send her father to trial and execution
without risk to himself, as he had certainly intended to do. On the
other hand, she had been able to terrify him to submission a few moments
earlier. In the instant working of her woman's mind, she recollected how
his fright had increased as she had approached the door by which she had
entered. His only chance of accomplishing her disappearance lay in
having her taken away by some secret passage, where no open scandal
could be possible.

Before she answered his last angry speech, she had almost reached the
main entrance again.

"Call whom you will," she said contemptuously. "You cannot save
yourself. Don Ruy Gomez is on the other side of that door, and there are
chamberlains and guards there, too. I shall have told them all the truth
before your men can lay hands on me. If you will not write the order to
release my father, I shall go out at once. In ten minutes there will be
a revolution in the palace, and to-morrow all Spain will be on fire to
avenge your brother. Spain has not forgotten Don Carlos yet! There are
those alive who saw you give Queen Isabel the draught that killed
her--with your own hand. Are you mad enough to think that no one knows
those things, that your spies, who spy on others, do not spy on you,
that you alone, of all mankind, can commit every crime with impunity?"

"Take care, girl! Take care!"

"Beware--Don Philip of Austria, King of Spain and half the world, lest a
girl's voice be heard above yours, and a girl's hand loosen the
foundation of your throne, lest all mankind rise up to-morrow and take
your life for the lives you have destroyed! Outside this door here,
there are men who guess the truth already, who hate you as they hate
Satan, and who loved your brother as every living being loved
him--except you. One moment more--order my father to be set free, or I
will open and speak. One moment! You will not? It is too late--you are

Her hand went out to open, but Philip was already on his feet, and with
quick, clumsy steps he reached the writing-table, seized the pen Perez
had thrown down, and began to scrawl words rapidly in his great angular
handwriting. He threw sand upon it to dry the ink, and then poured the
grains back into the silver sandbox, glanced at the paper and held it
out to Dolores without a word. His other hand slipped along the table to
a silver bell, used for calling his private attendants, but the girl saw
the movement and instinctively suspected his treachery. He meant her to
come to the table, when he would ring the bell and then catch her and
hold her by main force till help came. Her faculties were furiously
awake under the strain she bore, and outran his slow cunning.

"If you ring that bell, I will open," she said imperiously. "I must have
the paper here, where I am safe, and I must read it myself before I
shall be satisfied."

"You are a terrible woman," said the King, but she did not like his
smile as he came towards her, holding out the document.

She took it from his hand, keeping her eyes on his, for something told
her that he would try to seize her and draw her from the door while she
was reading it. For some seconds they faced each other in silence, and
she knew by his determined attitude that she was right, and that it
would not be safe to look down. She wondered why he did not catch her in
his arms as she stood, and then she realized that her free hand was on
the latch of the door, and that he knew it. She slowly turned the
handle, and drew the door to her, and she saw his face fall. She moved
to one side so that she could have sprung out if he had tried violence,
and then at last she allowed her eyes to glance at the paper. It was in
order and would be obeyed; she saw that, at a glance, for it said that
Don Diego de Mendoza was to be set at liberty instantly and

"I humbly thank your Majesty, and take my leave," she said, throwing the
door wide open and curtseying low.

A chamberlain who had seen the door move on its hinges stepped in to
shut it, for it opened inward. The King beckoned him in, and closed it,
but before it was quite shut, he heard Dolores' voice.

"Don Ruy Gomez," she was saying, "this is an order to set my father at
liberty unconditionally and at once. I do not know to whom it should be
given. Will you take it for me and see to it?"

"I will go to the west tower myself," he said, beginning to walk with
her. "Such good news is even better when a friend brings it."

"Thank you. Tell him from me that he is safe, for his Majesty has told
me that he knows the whole truth. Will you do that? You have been very
kind to me to-night, Prince--let me thank you with all my heart now, for
we may not meet again. You will not see me at court after this, and I
trust my father will take us back to Valladolid and live with us."

"That would be wise," answered Ruy Gomez. "As for any help I have given
you, it has been little enough and freely given. I will not keep your
father waiting for his liberty. Good-night, Dona Dolores."

* * * * *


All that had happened from the time when Don John had fallen in his room
to the moment when Dolores left her sister on the terrace had occupied
little more than half an hour, during which the King had descended to
the hall, Mendoza had claimed the guilt of Don John's murder, and the
two had gone out under the protection of the guards. As soon as Dolores
was out of hearing, Inez rose and crept along the terrace to Don John's
door. In the confusion that had ensued upon the announcement of his
death no one had thought of going to him; every one took it for granted
that some one else had done what was necessary, and that his apartments
were filled with physicians and servants. It was not the first time in
history that a royal personage had thus been left alone an hour, either
dead or dying, because no one was immediately responsible, and such
things have happened since.

Inez stole along the terrace and found the outer door open, as the dwarf
had left it when he had carried Dolores out in his arms. She remembered
that the voices she had heard earlier had come from rooms on the left of
the door, and she felt her way to the entrance of the bedchamber, and
then went in without hesitation. Bending very low, so that her hands
touched the floor from time to time, she crept along, feeling for the
body she expected to find. Suddenly she started and stood upright in an
instant. She had heard a deep sigh in the room, not far off.

She listened intently, but even her ears could detect no sound after
that. She was a little frightened, not with any supernatural fear, for
the blind, who live in the dark for ever, are generally singularly
exempt from such terrors, but because she had thought herself alone with
the dead man, and did not wish to be discovered.

"Who is here?" she asked quickly, but there was no answer out of the
dead stillness.

She stood quite still a few seconds and then crept forward again,
bending down and feeling before her along the floor. A moment later her
hand touched velvet, and she knew that she had found what she sought.
With a low moan she fell upon her knees and felt for the cold hand that
lay stretched out upon the marble pavement beyond the thick carpet. Her
hand followed the arm, reached the shoulder and then the face. Her
fingers fluttered lightly upon the features, while her own heart almost
stood still She felt no horror of death, though she had never been near
a dead person before; and those who were fond of her had allowed her to
feel their features with her gentle hands, and she knew beauty through
her touch, by its shape. Though her heart was breaking, she had felt
that once, before it was too late, she must know the face she had long
loved in dreams. Her longing satisfied, her grief broke out again, and
she let herself fall her length upon the floor beside Don John, one arm
across his chest, her head resting against the motionless shoulder, her
face almost hidden against the gathered velvet and silk of his doublet.
Once or twice she sobbed convulsively, and then she lay quite still,
trying with all her might to die there, on his arm, before any one came
to disturb her. It seemed very simple, just to stop living and stay with
him for ever.

Again she heard a sound of deep-drawn breath--but it was close to her
now, and her own arm moved with it on his chest--the dead man had moved,
he had sighed. She started up wildly, with a sharp cry, half of
paralyzing fear, and half of mad delight in a hope altogether
impossible. Then, he drew his breath again, and it issued from his lips
with a low groan. He was not quite dead yet, he might speak to her
still, he could hear her voice, perhaps, before he really died. She
could never have found courage to kiss him, even then she could have
blushed scarlet at the thought, but she bent down to his face, very
close to it, till her cheek almost touched his as she spoke in a very
trembling, low voice.

"Not yet--not yet--come back for one moment, only for one little moment!
Oh, let it be God's miracle for me!"

She hardly knew what she said, but the miracle was there, for she heard
his breath come again and again, and as she stared into her everlasting
night, strange flashes, like light, shot through her brain, her bosom
trembled, and her hands stiffened in the spasm of a delirious joy.

"Come back!" she cried again. "Come back!" Her hands shook as they felt
his body move.

His voice came again, not in a word yet, but yet not in a groan of pain.
His eyes, that had been half open and staring, closed with a look of
rest, and colour rose slowly in his cheeks. Then he felt her breath, and
his strength returned for an instant, his arms contracted and clasped
her to him violently.

"Dolores!" he cried, and in a moment his lips rained kisses on her face,
while his eyes were still closed.

Then he sank back again exhausted, and her arm kept his head from
striking the marble floor. The girl's cheek flushed a deep red, as she
tried to speak, and her words came broken and indistinct.

"I am not Dolores," she managed to say. "I am Inez--"

But he did not hear, for he was swooning again, and the painful blush
sank down again, as she realized that he was once more unconscious. She
wondered whether the room were dark or whether there were lights, or
whether he had not opened his eyes when he had kissed her. His head was
very heavy on her arm. With her other hand she drew off the hood she
wore and rolled it together, and lifting him a little she made a pillow
of it so that he rested easily. He had not recognized her, and she
believed he was dying, he had kissed her, and all eternity could not
take from her the memory of that moment. In the wild confusion of her
thoughts she was almost content that he should die now, for she had felt
what she had never dared to feel in sweetest dreams, and it had been
true, and no one could steal it away now, nor should any one ever know
it, not even Dolores herself. The jealous thought was there, in the
whirlwind of her brain, with all the rest, sudden, fierce, and strong,
as if Don John had been hers in life, and as if the sister she loved so
dearly had tried to win him from her. He was hers in death, and should
be hers for ever, and no one should ever know. It did not matter that he
had taken her for another, his kisses were her own. Once only had a
man's lips, not her father's, touched her cheek, and they had been the
lips of the fairest, and best, and bravest man in the world, her idol
and her earthly god. He might die now, and she would follow him, and in
the world beyond God would make it right somehow, and he, and she, and
her sister would all be but one loving soul for ever and ever. There was
no reasoning in all that--it was but the flash of wild thoughts that all
seemed certainties.

But Don John of Austria was neither dead nor dying. His brother's sword
had pierced his doublet and run through the outer flesh beneath his left
arm, as he stood sideways with his right thrust forward. The wound was a
mere scratch, as soldiers count wounds, and though the young blood had
followed quickly, it had now ceased to flow. It was the fall that had
hurt him, not the stab. The carpet had slipped from under his feet, and
he had fallen backwards to his full length, as a man falls on ice, and
his head had struck the marble floor so violently that he had lain half
an hour almost in a swoon, like a dead man at first, with neither breath
nor beating of the heart to give a sign of life, till after Dolores had
left him; and then he had sighed back to consciousness by very slow
degrees, because no one was there to help him, to raise his head a few
inches from the floor, to dash a little cold water into his face.

He stirred uneasily now, and moved his hands again, and his eyes opened
wide. Inez felt the slight motion and heard his regular breathing, and
an instinct told her that he was conscious, and not in a dream as he had
been when he had kissed her.

"I am Inez," she said, almost mechanically, and not knowing why she had
feared that he should take her for her sister. "I found your Highness
here--they all think that you are dead."

"Dead?" There was surprise in his voice, and his eyes looked at her and
about the room as he spoke, though he did not yet lift his head from the
hood on which it lay. "Dead?" he repeated, dazed still. "No--I must have
fallen. My head hurts me."

He uttered a sharp sound as he moved again, more of annoyance than of
suffering, as strong men do who unexpectedly find themselves hurt or
helpless, or both. Then, as his eyes fell upon the open door of the
inner room, he forgot his pain instantly and raised himself upon his
hand with startled eyes.

"Where is Dolores?" he cried, in utmost anxiety. "Where have they taken
her? Did she get out by the window?"

"She is safe," answered Inez, hardly knowing what she said, for he
turned pale instantly and had barely heard her answer, when he reeled as
he half sat and almost fell against her.

She held him as well as she could, but the position was strained and she
was not very strong. Half mad now, between fear lest he should die in
her arms and the instinctive belief that he was to live, she wished with
all her heart that some one would come and help her, or send for a
physician. He might die for lack of some simple aid she did not know how
to give him. But he had only been dizzy with the unconscious effort he
had made, and presently he rested on his own hand again.

"Thank God Dolores is safe!" he said, in a weak voice. "Can you help me
to get to a chair, my dear child? I must have been badly stunned. I
wonder how long I have been here. I remember--"

He paused and passed one hand over his eyes. The first instinct of
strong persons who have been unconscious is to think aloud, and to try
and recall every detail of the accident that left them unconscious.

"I remember--the King was here--we talked and we quarrelled--oh!"

The short exclamation ended his speech, as complete recollection
returned, and he knew that the secret must be kept, for his brother's
sake. He laid one head on the slight girl's shoulder to steady himself,
and with his other he helped himself to kneel on one knee.

"I am very dizzy," he said. "Try and help me to a chair, Inez."

She rose swiftly, holding his hand, and then putting one arm round him
under his own. He struggled to his feet and leaned his weight upon her,
and breathed hard. The effort hurt him where the flesh was torn.

"I am wounded, too," he said quietly, as he glanced at the blood on his
vest. "But it is nothing serious, I think."

With the instinct of the soldier hurt in the chest, he brushed his lips
with the small lace ruffle of his sleeve, and looked at it, expecting to
see the bright red stains that might mean death. There was nothing.

"It is only a scratch," he said, with an accent of indifference. "Help
me to the chair, my dear."

"Where?" she asked. "I do not know the room."

"One forgets that you are blind," he answered, with a smile, and leaning
heavily upon her, he led her by his weight, till he could touch the
chair in which he had sat reading Dolores' letter when the King had
entered an hour earlier.

He sat down with a sigh of relief, and stretched first one leg and then
the other, and leaned back with half-closed eyes.

"Where is Dolores?" he asked at last. "Why did she go away?"

"The jester took her away, I think," answered Inez. "I found them
together on the terrace. She was trying to come back to you, but he
prevented her. They thought you were dead."

"That was wise of him." He spoke faintly still, and when he opened his
eyes, the room swam with him. "And then?"

"Then I told her what had happened at court; I had heard everything from
the gallery. And Dolores went down alone. I could not understand what
she was going to do, but she is trying to save our father."

"Your father!" Don John looked at her in surprise, forgetting his hurt,
but it was as if some one had struck his head again, and he closed his
eyes. "What has happened?" he asked faintly. "Try and tell me. I do not

"My father thought he had killed you," answered Inez, in surprise. "He
came into the great hall when the King was there, and he cried out in a
loud voice that he had killed you, unarmed."

"Your father?" He forgot his suffering altogether now. "Your father was
not even in the room when--when I fell! And did the King say nothing?
Tell me quickly!"

"There was a great uproar, and I ran away to find Dolores. I do not know
what happened afterwards."

Don John turned painfully in his chair and lifted his hand to the back
of his head. But he said nothing at first, for he was beginning to
understand, and he would not betray the secret of his accident even to

"I knew he could not have done it! I thought he was mad--he most have
been! But I also thought your Highness was dead."

"Dear child!" Don John's voice was very kind. "You brought me to life.
Your father was not here. It was some one else who hurt me. Do you think
you could find Dolores or send some one to tell her--to tell every one
that I am alive? Say that I had a bad fall and was stunned for a while.
Never mind the scratch--it is nothing--do not speak of it. If you could
find Adonis, he could go."

He groaned now, for the pain of speaking was almost intolerable. Inez
put out her hand towards him.

"Does it hurt very much?" she asked, with a sort of pathetic, childlike

"Yes, my head hurts, but I shall not faint. There is something to drink
by the bed, I think--on this side. If you could only find it. I cannot
walk there yet, I am so giddy."

"Some one is coming!" exclaimed Inez, instead of answering him. "I hear
some one on the terrace. Hark!" she listened with bent head. "It is
Adonis. I know his step. There he is!"

Almost as she spoke the last words the dwarf was in the doorway. He
stood still, transfixed with astonishment.

"Mercy of heaven!" he exclaimed devoutly. "His Highness is alive after

"Yes," said Inez, in a glad tone. "The Prince was only stunned by the
fall. Go and tell Dolores--go out and tell every one--bring every one
here to me!"

"No!" cried Don John. "Try and bring Dona Dolores alone, and let no one
else know. The rest can wait."

"But your Highness needs a physician," protested the dwarf, not yet
recovered from his astonishment. "Your Highness is wounded, and must
therefore be bled at once. I will call the Doctor Galdos--"

"I tell you it is nothing," interrupted Don John. "Do as I order you,
and bring Dona Dolores. Give me that drink there, first--from the little
table. In a quarter of an hour I shall be quite well again. I have been
as badly stunned before when my horse has fallen with me at a barrier."

The jester swung quickly to the table, in his awkward, bow-legged gait,
and brought the beaker that stood there. Don John drank eagerly, for his
lips were parched with pain.

"Go!" he said imperatively. "And come back quickly."

"I will go," said Adonis. "But I may not come back quickly, for I
believe that Dona Dolores is with his Majesty at this moment, or with
her father, unless the three are together. Since it has pleased your
Highness not to remain dead, it would have been much simpler not to die
at all, for your Highness's premature death has caused trouble which
your Highness's premature resurrection may not quickly set right."

"The sooner you bring Dona Dolores, the sooner the tremble will be
over," said Don John. "Go at once, and do your best."

Adonis rolled away, shaking his head and almost touching the floor with
his hands as he walked.

"So the Last Trumpet is not merely another of those priests' tales!" he
muttered. "I shall meet Don Carlos on the terrace, and the Emperor in
the corridor, no doubt! They might give a man time to confess his sins.
It was unnecessary that the end of the world should come so suddenly!"

The last words of his jest were spoken to himself, for he was already
outside when he uttered them, and he had no intention of wasting time in
bearing the good news to Dolores. The difficulty was to find her. He had
been a witness of the scene in the hall from the balcony, and he guessed
that when she left the hall with Ruy Gomez she would go either to her
father or the King. It would not be an easy matter to see her, and it
was by no means beyond the bounds of possibility that he might be
altogether hindered from doing so, unless he at once announced to every
one he met the astounding fact that Don John was alive after all. He was
strongly tempted to do that, without waiting, for it seemed by far the
most sensible thing to do in the disturbed state of the court; but it
was his business to serve and amuse many masters, and his office, if not
his life, depended upon obeying each in turn and finding the right jest
for each. He placed the King highest, of course, among those he had to
please, and before he had gone far in the corridor he slackened his pace
to give himself time to think over the situation. Either the King had
meant to kill Don John himself, or he had ordered Mendoza to do so. That
much was clear to any one who had known the secret of Don Carlos' death,
and the dwarf had been one of the last who had talked with the
unfortunate Prince before that dark tragedy. And on this present night
he had seen everything, and knew more of the thoughts of each of the
actors in the drama than any one else, so that he had no doubt as to his
conclusions. If, then, the King had wished to get rid of Don John, he
would be very much displeased to learn that the latter was alive after
all. It would not be good to be the bearer of that news, and it was more
than likely that Philip would let Mendoza go to the scaffold for the
attempt, as he long afterwards condemned Antonio Perez to death for the
murder of Escobedo, Don John's secretary, though he himself had ordered
Perez to do that deed; as he had already allowed the ecclesiastic Doctor
Cazalla to be burned alive, though innocent, rather than displease the
judges who had condemned him. The dwarf well knew that there was no
crime, however monstrous, of which Philip was not capable, and of the
righteous necessity of which he could not persuade himself if he chose.
Nothing could possibly be more dangerous than to stand between him and
the perpetration of any evil he considered politically necessary, except
perhaps to hinder him in the pursuit of his gloomy and secret pleasures.
Adonis decided at once that he would not be the means of enlightening
the King on the present occasion. He most go to some one else. The
second person in command of his life, and whom he dreaded most after
Philip himself, was the Princess of Eboli.

He knew her secret, too, as he had formerly known how she had forged the
letters that brought about the deaths of Don Carlos and of Queen Isabel;
for the Princess ruled him by fear, and knew that she could trust him as
long as he stood in terror of her. He knew, therefore, that she had not
only forgiven Don John for not yielding to her charm in former days, but
that she now hoped that he might ascend the throne in Philip's stead, by
fair means or foul, and that the news of his death must have been a
destructive blow to her hopes. He made up his mind to tell her first
that he was alive, unless he could get speech with Dolores alone, which
seemed improbable. Having decided this, he hastened his walk again.

Before he reached the lower story of the palace he composed his face to
an expression of solemnity, not to say mourning, for he remembered that
as no one knew the truth but himself, he must not go about with too gay
a look. In the great vestibule of the hall he found a throng of
courtiers, talking excitedly in low tones, but neither Dolores nor Ruy
Gomez was there. He sidled up to a tall officer of the guards who was
standing alone, looking on.

"Could you inform me, sir," he asked, "what became of Dona Dolores de
Mendoza when she left the hall with the Prince of Eboli?"

The officer looked down at the dwarf, with whom he had never spoken
before, but who, in his way, was considered to be a personage of
importance by the less exalted members of the royal household. Indeed,
Adonis was by no means given to making acquaintance at haphazard with
all those who wished to know him in the hope that he might say a good
word for them when the King was in a pleasant humour.

"I do not know, Master Adonis," answered the magnificent lieutenant,
very politely. "But if you wish it, I will enquire."

"You are most kind and courteous, sir," answered the dwarf
ceremoniously. "I have a message for the lady."

The officer turned away and went towards the King's apartments, leaving
the jester in the corner. Adonis knew that he might wait some time
before his informant returned, and he shrank into the shadow to avoid
attracting attention. That was easy enough, so long as the crowd was
moving and did not diminish, but before long he heard some one speaking
within the hall, as if addressing a number of persons at once, and the
others began to leave the vestibule in order to hear what was passing.
Though the light did not fall upon him directly, the dwarf, in his
scarlet dress, became a conspicuous object. Yet he did not dare to go
away, for fear of missing the officer when the latter should return. His
anxiety to escape observation was not without cause, since he really
wished to give Don John's message to Dolores before any one else knew
the truth. In a few moments he saw the Princess of Eboli coming towards
him, leaning on the arm of the Duke of Medina Sidonia. She came from the
hall as if she had been listening to the person who was still speaking
near the door, and her handsome face wore a look of profound dejection
and disappointment. She had evidently seen the dwarf, for she walked
directly towards him, and at half a dozen paces she stopped and
dismissed her companion, who bowed low, kissed the tips of her fingers,
and withdrew.

Adonis drew down the corners of his mouth, bent his head still lower,
and tried to look as unhappy as possible, in imitation of the Princess's
expression. She stood still before him, and spoke briefly in imperious

"What is the meaning of all this?" she asked. "Tell me the truth at
once. It will be the better for you."

"Madam," answered Adonis, with all the assurance he could muster, "I
think your Excellency knows the truth much better than I."

The Princess bent her black brows and her eyes began to gleam angrily.
Titian would not have recognized in her stern face the smiling features
of his portrait of her--of the insolently beautiful Venus painted by
order of King Philip when the Princess was in the height of his favour.

"My friend," she said, in a mocking tone, "I know nothing, and you know
everything. At the present moment your disappearance from the court will
not attract even the smallest attention compared with the things that
are happening. If you do not tell me what you know, you will not be here
to-morrow, and I will see that you are burned alive for a sorcerer next
week. Do you understand? Now tell me who killed Don John of Austria, and
why. Be quick, I have no time to lose."

Adonis made up his mind very suddenly that it would be better to disobey
Don John than the angry woman who was speaking to him.

"Nobody killed him," he answered bluntly.

The Princess was naturally violent, especially with her inferiors, and
when she was angry she easily lost all dignity. She seized the dwarf by
the arm and shook him.

"No jesting!" she cried. "He did not kill himself--who did it?"

"Nobody," repeated Adonis doggedly, and quite without fear, for he knew
how glad she would be to know the truth. "His Highness is not dead at

"You little hound!" The Princess shook him furiously again and
threatened to strike him with her other hand.

He only laughed.

"Before heaven, Madam," he said, "the Prince is alive and recovered, and
is sitting in his chair. I have just been talking with him. Will you go
with me to his Highness's apartment? If he is not there, and safe, burn
me for a heretic to-morrow."

The Princess's hands dropped by her sides in sheer amazement, for she
saw that the jester was in earnest.

"He had a scratch in the scuffle," he continued, "but it was the fall
that killed him, his resurrection followed soon afterwards--and I trust
that his ascension may be no further distant than your Excellency

He laughed at his blasphemous jest, and the Princess laughed too, a
little wildly, for she could hardly control her joy.

"And who wounded him?" she asked suddenly. "You know everything, you
must know that also."

"Madam," said the dwarf, fixing his eyes on hers, "we both know the name
of the person who wounded Don John, very well indeed, I regret that I
should not be able to recall it at this moment. His Highness has
forgotten it too, I am sure."

The Princess's expression did not change, but she returned his gaze
steadily during several seconds, and then nodded slowly to show that she
understood. Then she looked away and was silent for a moment.

"I am sorry I was rough with you, Adonis," she said at last,
thoughtfully. "It was hard to believe you at first, and if the Prince
had been dead, as we all believed, your jesting would have been
abominable. There,"--she unclasped a diamond brooch from her
bodice--"take that, Adonis--you can turn it into money."

The Princess's financial troubles were notorious, and she hardly ever
possessed any ready gold.

"I shall keep it as the most precious of my possessions," answered the
dwarf readily.

"No," she said quickly. "Sell it. The King--I mean--some one may see it
if you keep it."

"It shall be sold to-morrow, then," replied the jester, bending his head
to hide his smile, for he understood what she meant.

"One thing more," she said; "Don John did not send you down to tell this
news to the court without warning. He meant that I should know it before
any one else. You have told me--now go away and do not tell others."

Adonis hesitated a moment. He wished to do Don John's bidding if he
could, but he knew his danger, and that he should be forgiven if, to
save his own head, he did not execute the commission. The Princess
wished an immediate answer, and she had no difficulty in guessing the

"His Highness sent you to find Dona Dolores," she said. "Is that not

"It is true," replied Adonis. "But," he added, anticipating her wish out
of fear, "it is not easy to find Dona Dolores."

"It is impossible. Did you expect to find her by waiting in this corner!
Adonis, it is safer for you to serve me than Don John, and in serving me
you will help his interests. You know that. Listen to me--Dona Dolores
must believe him dead till to-morrow morning. She must on no account
find out that he is alive."

At that moment the officer who had offered to get information for the
dwarf returned. Seeing the latter in conversation with such a great
personage, he waited at a little distance.

"If you have found out where Dona Dolores de Mendoza is at this moment,
my dear sir," said Adonis, "pray tell the Princess of Eboli, who is very
anxious to know."

The officer bowed and came nearer.

"Dona Dolores de Mendoza is in his Majesty's inner apartment," he said.

* * * * *


Dolores and Ruy Gomez had passed through the outer vestibule, and he
left her to pursue his way towards the western end of the Alcazar, which
was at a considerable distance from the royal apartments. Dolores went
down the corridor till she came to the niche and the picture before
which Don John had paused to read the Princess of Eboli's letter after
supper. She stopped a moment, for she suddenly felt that her strength
was exhausted and that she must rest or break down altogether. She
leaned her weight against the elaborately carved railing that shut off
the niche like a shrine, and looked at the painting, which was one of
Raphael's smaller masterpieces, a Holy Family so smoothly and delicately
painted that it jarred upon her at that moment as something untrue and
out of all keeping with possibility. Though most perfectly drawn and
coloured, the spotlessly neat figures with their airs of complacent
satisfaction seemed horribly out of place in the world of suffering she
was condemned to dwell in, and she fancied, somewhat irreverently and
resentfully, that they would look as much out of keeping with their
surroundings in a heaven that must be won by the endurance of pain.
Their complacent smiles seemed meant for her anguish, and she turned
from the picture in displeasure, and went on.

She was going back to her sister on the terrace, and she was going to
kneel once more beside the dear head of the man she had loved, and to
say one last prayer before his face was covered for ever. At the thought
she felt that she needed no rest again, for the vision drew her to the
sorrowful presence of its reality, and she could not have stopped again
if she had wished to. She must go straight on, on to the staircase, up
the long flight of steps, through the lonely corridors, and out at hist
to the moonlit terrace where Inez was waiting. She went forward in a
dream, without pausing. Since she had freed her father she had a right
to go back to her grief. But as she went along, lightly and quickly, it
seemed beyond her own belief that she should have found strength for
what she had done that night. For the strength of youth is elastic and
far beyond its own knowledge. Dolores had reached the last passage that
led out upon the terrace, when she heard hurrying footsteps behind her,
and a woman in a cloak slipped beside her, walking very easily and
smoothly. It was the Princess of Eboli. She had left the dwarf, after
frightening him into giving up his search for Dolores, and she was
hastening to Don John's rooms to make sure that the jester had not
deceived her or been himself deceived in some way she could not

Dolores had lost her cloak in the hall, and was bareheaded, in her court
dress. The Princess recognized her in the gloom and stopped her.

"I have looked for you everywhere," she said. "Why did you run away from
me before?"

"It was my blind sister who was with you," answered Dolores, who knew
her voice at once and had understood from her father what had happened.
"Where are you going now?" she asked, without giving the Princess time
to put a question.

"I was looking for you. I wish you to come and stay with me to-night--"

"I will stay with my father. I thank you for your kindness, but I would
not on any account leave him now."

"Your father is in prison--in the west tower--he has just been sent
there. How can you stay with him?"

"You are well informed," said Dolores quietly. "But your husband is just
now gone to release him. I gave Don Ruy Gomez the order which his
Majesty had himself placed in my hands, and the Prince was kind enough
to take it to the west tower himself. My father is unconditionally

The Princess looked fixedly at Dolores while the girl was speaking, but
it was very dark in the corridor and the lamp was flickering to go out
in the night breeze. The only explanation of Mendoza's release lay in
the fact that the King was already aware that Don John was alive and in
no danger. In that case Dolores knew it, too. It was no great matter,
though she had hoped to keep the girl out of the way of hearing the news
for a day or two. Dolores' mournful face might have told her that she
was mistaken, if there had been more light; but it was far too dark to
see shades of colour or expression.

"So your father is free!" she said. "Of course, that was to be expected,
but I am glad that he has been set at liberty at once."

"I do not think it was exactly to be expected," answered Dolores, in
some surprise, and wondering whether there could have been any simpler
way of getting what she had obtained by such extraordinary means.

"He might have been kept under arrest until to-morrow morning, I
suppose," said the Princess quietly. "But the King is of course anxious
to destroy the unpleasant impression produced by this absurd affair, as
soon as possible."

"Absurd!" Dolores' anger rose and overflowed at the word. "Do you dare
to use such a word to me to-night?"

"My dear Dolores, why do you lose your temper about such a thing?" asked
the Princess, in a conciliatory tone. "Of course if it had all ended as
we expected it would, I never should use such a word--if Don John had

"What do you mean?" Dolores held her by the wrist in an instant and the
maddest excitement was in her voice.

"What I mean? Why--" the Princess stopped short, realizing that Dolores
might not know the truth after all. "What did I say?" she asked, to gain
time. "Why do you hold my hand like that?"

"You called the murder of Don John an absurd affair, and then you said,
'if Don John had died'--as if he were not lying there dead in his room,
twenty paces from where you stand! Are you mad? Are you playing some
heartless comedy with me? What does it all mean?"

The Princess was very worldly wise, and she saw at a glance that she
must tell Dolores the truth. If she did not, the girl would soon learn
it from some one else, but if she did, Dolores would always remember who
had told her the good news.

"My dear," she said very gently, "let my wrist go and let me take your
arm. We do not understand each other, or you would not be so angry with
me. Something has happened of which you do not know--"

"Oh, no! I know the whole truth!" Dolores interrupted her, and resisted
being led along in a slow walk. "Let me go to him!" she cried. "I only
wish to see him once more--"

"But, dearest child, listen to me--if I do not tell you everything at
once, it is because the shock might hurt you. There is some hope that he
may not die--"

"Hope! Oh no, no, no! I saw him lying dead--"

"He had fainted, dear. He was not dead--"

"Not dead?" Dolores' voice broke. "Tell me--tell me quickly." She
pressed her hand to her side.

"No. He came to himself after you had left him--he is alive. No--listen
to me--yes, dear, he is alive and not much hurt. The wound was a
scratch, and he was only stunned--he is well--to-morrow he will be as
well as ever--ah, dear, I told you so!"

Dolores had borne grief, shame, torment of mind that night, as bravely
as ever a woman bore all three, but the joy of the truth that he lived
almost ended her life then and there. She fell back upon the Princess's
arm and threw out her hands wildly, as if she were fighting for breath,
and the lids of her eyes quivered violently and then were quite still,
and she uttered a short, unnatural sound that was more like a groan of
pain than a cry of happiness.

The Princess was very strong, and held her, steadying herself against
the wall, thinking anything better than to let her slip to the floor and
lie swooning on the stone pavement. But the girl was not unconscious,
and in a moment her own strength returned.

"Let me go!" she cried wildly. "Let me go to him, or I shall die!"

"Go, child--go," said the Princess, with an accent of womanly kindness
that was rare in her voice. But Dolores did not hear it, for she was
already gone.

Dolores saw nothing in the room, as she entered, but the eyes of the man
she loved, though Inez was still beside him. Dolores threw herself
wildly into his arms and hid her face, crying out incoherent words
between little showers of happy tears; and her hands softly beat upon
his shoulders and against his neck, and stole up wondering to his cheeks
and touched his hair, as she drew back her head and held him still to
look at him and see that he was whole. She had no speech left, for it
was altogether beyond the belief of any sense but touch itself that a
man should rise unhurt from the dead, to go on living as if nothing not
common had happened in his life, to have his strength at once, to look
into her eyes and rain kisses on the lids still dark with grief for his
death. Sight could not believe the sight, hearing could not but doubt
the sound, yet her hands held him and touched him, and it was he, unhurt
saving for a scratch and a bruise. In her overwhelming happiness, she
had no questions, and the first syllables that her lips could shape made
broken words of love, and of thanks to Heaven that he had been saved
alive for her, while her hands still fluttered to his face and beat
gently and quickly on his shoulders and his arms, as if fearing lest he
should turn to incorporeal light, without substance under her touch, and
vanish then in air, as happiness does in a dream, leaving only pain

But at last she threw back her head and let him go, and her hands
brushed away the last tears from her grey eyes, and she looked into his
face and smiled with parted lips, drinking the sight of him with her
breath and eyes and heart. One moment so, and then they kissed as only
man and woman can when there has been death between them and it is gone
not to come back again.

Then memory returned, though very slowly and broken in many places, for
it seemed to her as if she had not been separated from him a moment, and
as if he must know all she had done without hearing her story in words.
The time had been so short since she had kissed him last, in the little
room beyond: there had been the minutes of waiting until the King had
come, and then the trying of the door, and then the quarrel, that had
lasted a short ten minutes to end in Don John's fall; then the half hour
during which he had lain unconscious and alone till Inez had come at the
moment when Dolores had gone down to the throne room; and after that the
short few minutes in which she had met her father, and then her
interview with the King, which had not lasted long, and now she was with
him again; and it was not two hours since they had parted--a lifetime of
two hours.

"I cannot believe it!" she cried, and now she laughed at last. "I
cannot, I cannot! It is impossible!"

"We are both alive," he answered. "We are both flesh and blood, and
breathing. I feel as if I had been in an illness or in a sleep that had
lasted very long."

"And I in an awful dream." Her face grew grave as she thought of what
was but just passed. "You must know it all--surely you know it
already--oh, yes! I need not tell it all."

"Something Inez has told me," he replied, "and some things I guess, but
I do not know everything. You must try and tell me--but you should not
be here--it is late. When my servants know that I am living, they will
come back, and my gentlemen and my officers. They would have left me
here all night, if I had been really dead, lest being seen near my body
should send them to trial for my death." He laughed. "They were wise
enough in their way. But you cannot stay here."

"If the whole court found me here, it would not matter," answered
Dolores. "Their tongues can take nothing from my name which my own words
have not given them to feed on."

"I do not understand," he said, suddenly anxious. "What have you said?
What have you done?"

Inez came near them from the window, by which she had been standing. She
laid a hand on Dolores' arm.

"I will watch," she said. "If I hear anything, I will warn you, and you
can go into the small room again."

She went out almost before either of them could thank her. They had,
indeed, forgotten her presence in the room, being accustomed to her
being near them; but she could no longer bear to stay, listening to
their loving words that made her loneliness so very dark. And now, too,
she had memories of her own, which she would keep secret to the end of
her life,--beautiful and happy recollections of that sweet moment when
the man that seemed dead had breathed and had clasped her in his arms,
taking her for the other, and had kissed her as he would have kissed the
one he loved. She knew at last what a kiss might be, and that was much;
but she knew also what it was to kneel by her dead love and to feel his
life come back, breath by breath and beat by beat, till he was all
alive; and few women have felt that or can guess how great it is to
feel. It was better to go out into the dark and listen, lest any one
should disturb the two, than to let her memories of short happiness be
marred by hearing words that were not meant for her.

"She found you?" asked Dolores, when she was gone.

"Yes, she found me. You had gone down, she said, to try and save your
father. He is safe now!" he laughed.

"She found you alive." Dolores lingered on the words. "I never envied
her before, I think; and it is not because if I had stayed I should have
suffered less, dear." She put up her hands upon his shoulders again. "It
is not for that, but to have thought you dead and to have seen you grow
alive again, to have watched your face, to have seen your eyes wake and
the colour come back to your cheeks and the warmth to your dear hands! I
would have given anything for that, and you would rather that I should
have been there, would you not?" She laughed low and kissed away the
answer from his lips. "If I had stayed beside you, it would have been
sooner, love. You would have felt me there even in your dream of death,
and you would have put out your hand to come back to me. Say that you
would! You could not have let me lie there many minutes longer breaking
my heart over you and wanting to die, too, so that we might be buried
together. Surely my kisses would have brought you back!"

"I dreamed they did, as mine would you."

"Sit down beside me," she said presently. "It will be very hard to
tell--and it cannot be very long before they come. Oh, they may find me
here! It cannot matter now, for I told them all that I had been long in
your room to-night."

"Told them all? Told whom? The King? What did you say?" His face was
grave again.

"The King, the court, the whole world. But it is harder to tell you."
She blushed and looked away. "It was the King that wounded you--I heard
you fall."

"Scratched me. I was only stunned for a while."

"He drew his sword, for I heard it. You know the sound a sword makes
when it is drawn from a leathern sheath? Of course--you are a soldier! I
have often watched my father draw his, and I know the soft, long pull.
The King drew quickly, and I knew you were unarmed, and besides--you had
promised me that you would not raise your hand against him."

"I remember that my sword was on the table in its scabbard. I got it
into my hand, sheathed as it was, to guard myself. Where is it? I had
forgotten that. It must be somewhere on the floor."

"Never mind--your men will find it. You fell, and then there was
silence, and presently I heard my father's voice saying that he had
killed you defenceless. They went away. I was half dead myself when I
fell there beside you on the floor. There--do you see? You lay with your
head towards the door and one arm out. I shall see you so till I die,
whenever I think of it. Then--I forget. Adonis must have found me there,
and he carried me away, and Inez met me on the terrace and she had heard
my father tell the King that he had murdered you--and it was the King
who had done it! Do you understand?"

"I see, yes. Go on!" Don John was listening breathlessly, forgetting the
pain he still suffered from time to time.

"And then I went down, and I made Don Ruy Gomez stand beside me on the
steps, and the whole court was there--the Grandees and the great
dukes--Alva, Medina Sidonia, Medina Cali, Infantado, the Princess of
Eboli--the Ambassadors, everyone, all the maids of honour, hundreds and
hundreds--an ocean of faces, and they knew me, almost all of them."

"What did you say?" asked Don John very anxiously. "What did you tell
them all? That you had been here?"

"Yes--more than that, much more. It was not true, but I hoped they would
believe it I said--" the colour filled her face and she caught her
breath. "Oh, how can I tell you? Can you not guess what I said?"

"That we were married already, secretly?" he asked. "You might have said

"No. Not that--no one would have believed me. I told them," she paused
and gathered her strength, and then the words came quickly, ashamed of
being heard--"I told them that I knew my father had no share in the
crime, because I had been here long to-night, in this room, and even
when you were killed, and that I was here because I had given you all,
my life, my soul, my honour, everything."

"Great God!" exclaimed Don John starting. "And you did that to save your

She had covered her face with her hands for a moment. Then suddenly she
rose and turned away from him, and paced the floor.

"Yes. I did that. What was there for me to do? It was better that I
should be ruined and end in a convent than that my father should die on
the scaffold. What would have become of Inez?"

"What would have become of you?" Don John's eyes followed her in loving

"It would not have mattered. But I had thrown away my name for nothing.
They believed me, I think, but the King, to spare himself, was
determined that my father should die. We met as he was led away to
prison. Then I went to the King himself--and when I came away I had my
father's release in my hand. Oh, I wish I had that to do again! I wish
you had been there, for you would have been proud of me, then. I told
him he had killed you, I heard him confess it, I threatened to tell the
court, the world, all Spain, if he would not set my father free. But the
other--can you forgive me, dear?"

She stood before him now, and the colour was fainter in her cheeks, for
she trusted him with all her heart, and she put out her hands.

"Forgive you? What? For doing the bravest thing a woman ever did?"

"I thought you would know it in heaven and understand," she said. "It is
better that you know it on earth--but it was hard to tell."

He held her hands together and pressed them to his lips. He had no words
to tell her what he thought. Again and again he silently kissed the firm
white fingers folded in his own.

"It was magnificent," he said at last. "But it will be hard to undo,
very hard."

"What will it ever matter, since we know it is not true?" she asked.
"Let the world think what it will, say what it likes--"

"The world shall never say a slighting word of you," he interrupted. "Do
you think that I will let the world say openly what I would not hear
from the King alone between these four walls? There is no fear of that,
love. I will die sooner."

"Oh, no!" she cried, in sudden fear. "Oh, do not speak of death again
to-night! I cannot bear the word!"

"Of life, then, of life together,--of all our lives in peace and love!
But first this must be set right. It is late, but this must be done
now--at once. There is only one way, there is only one thing to be

He was silent for a moment, and his eyes looked quickly to the door and
back to Dolores' face.

"I cannot go away," she cried, nestling to him. "You will not make me
go? What does it matter?"

"It matters much. It will matter much more hereafter." He was on his
feet, and all his energy and graceful strength came back as if he had
received no hurt. "There is little time left, but what there is, is
ours. Inez!" He was at the door. "Is no one there upon the terrace? Is
there no servant, no sentry? Ho, there! Who are you? Come here, man! Let
me see your face! Adonis?"

Inez and the dwarf were in the door. Dolores was behind him, looking
out, not knowing what he meant to do. He had his hand on the dwarf's arm
in his haste. The crooked creature looked up, half in fear.

"Quick! Go!" cried Don John. "Get me a priest, a monk, a
bishop,--anything that wears a frock and can speak Latin. Bring him
here. Threaten his life, in my name, if you like. Tell him Don John of
Austria is in extreme need, and must have a priest. Quick, man! Fly!
Your life and fortune are in your legs! Off, man! Off!"

Adonis was already gone, rolling through the gloom with swinging arms,
more like a huge bat than anything human, and at a rate of speed none
would have guessed latent in his little twisted legs. Don John drew back
within the door.

"Stay within," he said to Dolores, gently pressing her backwards into
the room. "I will let no one pass till the priest comes; and then the
world may come, too, and welcome,--and the court and the King, and the
devil and all his angels!" He laughed aloud in his excitement.

"You have not told me," Dolores began, but her eyes laughed in his.

"But you know without words," he answered. "When that is done which a
priest can do in an instant, and no one else, the world is ours, with
all it holds, in spite of men and women and Kings!"

"It is ours already," she cried happily. "But is this wise, love? Are
you not too quick?"

"Would you have me slow when you and your name and my honour are all at
stake on one quick throw? Can we play too quickly at such a game with
fate? There will be time, just time, no more. For when the news is
known, it will spread like fire. I wonder that no one comes yet."

He listened, and Inez' hearing was ten times more sensitive than his,
but there was no sound. For besides Dolores and Inez only the dwarf and
the Princess of Eboli knew that Don John was living; and the Princess
had imposed silence on the jester and was in no haste to tell the news
until she should decide who was to know it first and how her own
advantage could be secured. So there was time, and Adonis swung himself
along the dim corridor and up winding stairs that be knew, and roused
the little wizened priest who lived in the west tower all alone, and
whose duty it was to say a mass each morning for any prisoner who
chanced to be locked up there; and when there was no one in confinement
he said his mass for himself in the small chapel which was divided from
the prison only by a heavy iron grating. The jester sometimes visited
him in his lonely dwelling and shocked and delighted him with alternate
tales of the court's wickedness and with harmless jokes that made his
wizened cheeks pucker and wrinkle into unaccustomed smiles. And he had
some hopes of converting the poor jester to a pious life. So they were
friends. But when the old priest heard that Don John of Austria was
suddenly dying in his room and that there was no one to shrive him,--for
that was the tale Adonis told,--he trembled from head to foot like a
paralytic, and the buttons of his cassock became as drops of quicksilver
and slipped from his weak fingers everywhere except into the
buttonholes, so that the dwarf had to fasten them for him in a furious
hurry, and find his stole, and set his hat upon his head, and polish
away the tears of excitement from his cheeks with his own silk
handkerchief. Yet it was well done, though so quickly, and he had a kind
old face and was a good priest.

But when Adonis had almost carried him to Don John's door, and pushed
him into the room, and when he saw that the man he supposed to be dying
was standing upright, holding a most beautiful lady by the hand, he drew
back, seeing that he had been deceived, and suspecting that he was to be
asked to do something for which he had no authority. The dwarf's long
arm was behind him, however, and he could not escape.

"This is the priest of the west tower, your Highness," said Adonis. "He
is a good priest, but he is a little frightened now."

"You need fear nothing," said Don John kindly. "I am Don John of
Austria. This lady is Dona Maria Dolores de Mendoza. Marry us without
delay. We take each other for man and wife."

"But--" the little priest hesitated--"but, your Highness--the banns--or
the bishop's license--"

"I am above banns and licenses, my good sir," answered Don John, "and if
there is anything lacking in the formalities, I take it upon myself to
set all right to-morrow. I will protect you, never fear. Make haste, for
I cannot wait. Begin, sir, lose no time, and take my word for the right
of what you do."

"The witnesses of this," faltered the old man, seeing that he must
yield, but doubtful still.

"This lady is Dona Inez de Mendoza," said Don John, "and this is Miguel
de Antona, the court jester. They are sufficient."

So it chanced that the witnesses of Don John of Austria's secret
marriage were a blind girl and the King's fool.

The aged priest cleared his throat and began to say the words in Latin,
and Don John and Dolores held their clasped hands before him, not
knowing what else to do, and each looked into the other's eyes and saw
there the whole world that had any meaning for them, while the priest
said things they but half understood, but that made the world's
difference to them, then and afterwards.

It was soon done, and he raised his trembling hand and blessed them,
saying the words very softly and clearly and without stumbling, for they
were familiar, and meant much; and having reached them, his haste was
over. The dwarf was on his knees, his rough red head bent reverently
low, and on the other side Inez knelt with joined hands, her blind eyes
turned upward to her sister's face, while she prayed that all blessings
of life and joy might be on the two she loved so well, and that they
might have for ever and unbroken the infinite happiness she had felt for
one instant that night, not meant for her, but dearer to her than all
memories or hopes.

Then as the priest's words died away in the silent room, there was a
sound of many feet and of many voices on the terrace outside, coming
nearer and nearer to the door, very quickly; and the priest looked round
in terror, not knowing what new thing was to come upon him, and wishing
with all his heart that he were safe in his tower room again and out of
all harm's way. But Don John smiled, while he still held Dolores' hand,
and the dwarf rose quickly and led the priest into the study where
Dolores had been shut up so long, and closed the door behind him.

That was hardly done when the outer door was opened wide, and a clear,
formal voice was heard speaking outside.

"His Majesty the King!" cried the chamberlain who walked before Philip.

Dolores dropped Don John's hand and stood beside him, growing a little
pale; but his face was serene and high, and he smiled quietly as he went
forward to meet his brother. The King advanced also, with outstretched
arms, and he formally embraced Don John, to exhibit his joy at such an
unexpected recovery.

Behind him came in torch-bearers and guards and many of the court who
had joined the train, and in the front rank Mendoza, grim and erect, but
no longer ashy pale, and Ruy Gomez with him, and the Princess of Eboli,
and all the chief Grandees of Spain, filling the wide bedchamber from
side to side with a flood of rich colour in which the little
constellations of their jewels shone here and there with changing

Out of respect for the King they did not speak, and yet there was a soft
sound of rejoicing in the room, and their very breathing was like a
murmur of deep satisfaction. Then the King spoke, and all at once the
silence was profound.

"I wished to be the first to welcome my dear brother back to life," he
said. "The court has been in mourning for you these two hours, and none
has mourned you more deeply and sorrowfully than I. We would all know
the cause of your Highness's accident, the meaning of our friend
Mendoza's strange self-accusation, and of other things we cannot
understand without a word from you."

The chair in which Don John had sat to read Dolores' letter was brought
forward, and the King took his seat in it, while the chief officers of
the household grouped themselves round him. Don John remained standing,
facing him and all the rest, while Dolores drew back a little into the
shadow not far from him. The King's unmoving eyes watched him closely,
even anxiously.

"The story is short, Sire, and if it is not all clear, I shall crave
your Majesty's pardon for being silent on certain points which concern
my private life. I was alone this evening in my room here, after your
Majesty had left supper, and I was reading. A man came to visit me then
whom I have known and trusted long. We were alone, we have had
differences before, to-night sharp words passed between us. I ask your
Majesty's permission not to name that man, for I would not do him an
injury, though it should cost me my life."

His eyes were fixed on the King, who slowly nodded his assent. He had
known that he could trust his brother not to betray him, and he wondered
what was to come next. Don John smiled a little as he went on.

"There were sharp words," he said, "and being men, steel was soon out,
and I received this scratch here--a mere nothing. But as chance would
have it I fell backward and was so stunned that I seemed dead. And then,
as I learn, my friend Mendoza there came in, either while we fought, or
afterwards, and understood--and so, as I suppose, in generous fear for
my good name, lest it should be told that I had been killed in some
dishonest brawl, or for a woman's sake--my friend Mendoza, in the
madness of generosity, and because my love for his beautiful daughter
might give the tale some colour, takes all the blame upon himself, owns
himself murderer, loses his wits, and well-nigh loses his head, too. So
I understand the matter, Sire."

He paused a moment, and again the King slowly nodded, but this time he
smiled also, and seemed much pleased.

"For what remains," Don John continued, "that is soon explained. This
brave and noble lady whom you found here, you all know. I have loved her
long and faithfully, and with all my heart. Those who know me, know that
my word is good, and here before your Majesty, before man and before
Heaven, I solemnly swear upon my most sacred word that no harm has ever
come near her, by me, or by another. Yet, in the hope of saving her
father's life, believing and yet not believing that he might have hurt
me in some quarrel, she went among you, and told you the tale you know.
I ask your Majesty to say that my word and oath are good, and thereby to
give your Majesty's authority to what I say. And if there is any man
here, or in Spain, among your Majesty's subjects, who doubts the word I
give, let him say so, for this is a grave matter, and I wish to be
believed before I say more."

A third time the King nodded, and this time not ungraciously, since
matters had gone well for him.

"For myself," he said, "I would take your word against another man's
oath, and I think there is no one bold enough to question what we both

"I thank your Majesty. And moreover, I desire permission to present to
your Majesty--"

He took Dolores' hand and drew her forward, though she came a little
unwillingly, and was pale, and her deep grey eyes gazed steadily at the
King's face.

"--My wedded wife," said Don John, completing the sentence.

"Your wife!" exclaimed the King, in great surprise. "Are you married

"Wedded man and wife, Sire," answered Don John, in tones that all could

"And what does Mendoza say to this?" asked Philip, looking round at the
veteran soldier.

"That his Highness has done my house a great honour, your Majesty; and I
pray that my daughter and I be not needlessly separated hereafter."

His glance went to Dolores' triumphant eyes almost timidly, and then
rested on her face with a look she had never seen in his, save on that
evening, but which she always found there afterwards. And at the same
time the hard old man drew Inez close to him, for she had found him
among the officers, and she stood by him and rested her arm on his with
a new confidence.

Then, as the King rose, there was a sound of glad voices in the room, as
all talked at once and each told the other that an evil adventure was
well ended, and that Don John of Austria was the bravest and the
handsomest and the most honourable prince in the world, and that Maria
Dolores de Mendoza had not her equal among women for beauty and high
womanly courage and perfect devotion.

But there were a few who were ill pleased; for Antonio Perez said
nothing, and absently smoothed his black hair with his immaculate white
hand, and the Princess of Eboli was very silent, too, for it seemed to
her that Don John's sudden marriage, and his reconciliation with his
brother, had set back the beginning of her plan beyond the bounds of
possible accomplishment; and she was right in that, and the beginning of
her resentment against Don John for having succeeded in marrying Dolores
in spite of every one was the beginning of the chain that led her to her
own dark fate. For though she held the cards long in her hands after
that, and played for high stakes, as she had done before, fortune failed
her at the last, and she came to unutterable ruin.

It may be, too, that Don John's splendid destiny was measured on that
night, and cut off beforehand, though his most daring fights were not
yet fought, nor his greatest victories won. To tell more here would be
to tell too much, and much, too, that is well told elsewhere. But this
is true, that he loved Dolores with all his heart; that the marriage
remained a court secret; and that she bore him one fair daughter, and
died, and the child grew up under another reign, a holy nun, and was
abbess of the convent of Las Huelgas whither Dolores was to have gone on
the morning after that most eventful night.

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