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not stab me from behind?"
"Senor, I have told you that I do not murder, and that would be the
foulest murder. As for the stake, it is Margaret to the victor. If you
kill me, on behalf of all my company, I swear by our Saviour's Blood
that you shall depart with her and her father unharmed, and if I kill
you, then you both shall swear that she shall be left with me, and no
suit or question raised but to her woman I give liberty, who have seen
more than enough of her."
"Nay," broke in Castell, speaking for the first time "I demand the right
to fight with you also when my arm is healed."
"I refuse it," answered d'Aguilar haughtily. "I cannot lift my sword
against an old man who is the father of the maid who shall be my wife,
and, moreover, a merchant and a Jew. Nay, answer me not, lest all these
should remember your ill words. I will be generous, and leave you out of
the oath. Do your worst against me, Master Castell, and then leave me to
do my worst against you. Senor Brome, the light grows bad, and the water
gains upon us. Say, are you ready?"
Peter nodded his head, and they stepped forward.
"One more word," said d'Aguilar, dropping his sword-point. "My friends,
you have heard our compact. Do you swear to abide by it, and, if I fall,
to set these two men and the two ladies free on their own ship or on the
land, for the honour of chivalry and of Spain?"
The captain of the _San Antonio_ and his lieutenants answered that they
swore on behalf of all the crew.
"You hear, Senor Brome. Now these are the conditions--that we fight to
the death, but, if both of us should be hurt or wounded, so that we
cannot despatch each other, then no further harm shall be done to either
of us, who shall be tended till we recover or die by the will of God."
"You mean that we must die on each other's swords or not at all, and if
any foul chance should overtake either, other than by his adversary's
hand, that adversary shall not dispatch him?"
"Yes, Senor, for in our case such things may happen," and he pointed to
the huge seas that towered over them, threatening to engulf the
water-logged caravel. "We will take no advantage of each other, who wish
to fight this quarrel out with our own right arms."
"So be it," said Peter, "and Master Castell here is the witness to our
D'Aguilar nodded, kissed the cross-hilt of his sword in confirmation of
the pact, bowed courteously, and put himself on his defence.
For a moment they stood facing each other, a well-matched pair--Peter,
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