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"I pray you, do," said Peter earnestly--"explain it fully."
"I will--I will. I will work for you and her and her father, and if I
cease to work, know that I am dead or in a dungeon, and fend for
yourselves as best you may. One thing I can tell you for your
comfort--no harm has been done to this lady of yours. Morella loves her
too well for that. He wishes to make her his wife. Or perhaps he has
sworn some oath, as I know that he has sworn that he will not murder
you--which he might have done a score of times while you have lain a
prisoner in his power. Why, once when you were senseless he came and
stood over you, a dagger in his hand, and reasoned out the case with me.
I said, 'Why do you not kill him?' knowing that thus I could best help
to save your life. He answered, 'Because I will not take my wife with
her lover's blood upon my hands, unless I slay him in fair fight. I
swore it yonder in London. It was the offering which I made to God and
to my patron saint that so I might win her fairly, and if I break that
oath, God will be avenged upon me here and hereafter. Do my bidding,
Inez. Nurse him well, so that if he dies, he dies without sin of mine,'
No, he will not murder you or harm her. Friend Pedro, he dare not."
"Can you think of nothing?" asked Peter.
"Nothing--as yet nothing. These walls are high, guards watch them day
and night, and outside is the great city of Granada where Morella has
much power, and whence no Christian may escape. But he would marry her.
And there is that handsome fool-woman, her servant, who is in love with
him--oh! she told me all about it in the worst Spanish I ever heard, but
the story is too long to repeat; and the priest, Father Henriques--he
who wished that you might be killed at the inn, and who loves money so
much. Ah! now I think I see some light. But we have no more time to
talk, and I must have time to think. Friend Pedro, make ready your
kisses, we must go on with our game, and, in truth, you play but badly.
Come now, your arm. There is a seat prepared for us yonder. Smile and
look loving. I have not art enough for both. Come!--come!" And together
they walked out of the dense shadow of the trees and past the marble
bath of the sultanas to a certain seat beneath a bower on which were
cushions, and lying among them a lute.
"Seat yourself at my feet," she said, as she sank on to the bench. "Can
"No more than a crow," he answered.
"Then I must sing to you. Well, it will be better than the love-making."
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