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the same time dropping his staff and drawing his dagger with the left
hand. Now he was well armed, and looked so fierce and soldier-like as he
faced his foes, that, although four or five blades were out, they held
back. Then Peter spoke for the first time, for he knew that against so
many he had no chance.
"Englishmen," he cried in ringing tones, but without shifting his head
or glance, "will you see me murdered by these Spanish dogs?"
There was a moment's pause, then a voice behind cried:
"By God! not I," and a brawny Kentish man-at-arms ranged up beside him,
his cloak thrown over his left arm, and his sword in his right hand.
"Nor I," said another. "Peter Brome and I have fought together before."
"Nor I," shouted a third, "for we were born in the same Essex hundred."
And so it went on, until there were as many stout Englishmen at his side
as there were Spaniards and Scotchmen before him.
"That will do," said Peter, "we want no more than man to man. Look to
the women, comrades behind there. Now, you murderers, if you would see
English sword-play, come on, or, if you are afraid, let us go in peace."
"Yes, come on, you foreign cowards," shouted the mob, who did not love
these turbulent and privileged guards.
By now the Spanish blood was up, and the old race-hatred awake. In
broken English the sergeant of the guard shouted out some filthy insult
about Margaret, and called upon his followers to "cut the throats of the
London swine." Swords shone red in the red sunset light, men shifted
their feet and bent forward, and in another instant a great and bloody
fray would have begun.
But it did not begin, for at that moment a tall senor, who had been
standing in the shadow and watching all that passed, walked between the
opposing lines, as he went striking up the swords with his arm.
"Have done," said d'Aguilar quietly, for it was he, speaking in Spanish.
"You fools! do you want to see every Spaniard in London torn to pieces?
As for that drunken brute," and he touched the corpse of Andrew with his
foot, "he brought his death upon himself. Moreover, he was not a
Spaniard, there is no blood quarrel. Come, obey me! or must I tell you
who I am?"
"We know you, Marquis," said the leader in a cowed voice. "Sheath your
swords, comrades; after all, it is no affair of ours."
The men obeyed somewhat unwillingly; but at this moment arrived the
ambassador de Ayala, very angry, for he had heard of the death of his
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