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answer, 'Yes, I will.' Nay, be silent both of you, and hear me out. What
if then there should be a secret marriage, _and the Senora Betty should
chance to wear the bride's veil_, while the Dona Margaret, in the robe
of Betty, was let go with the Senor Brome and her father?"
Inez paused, watching them both, and playing with the fan she held,
while, the rendering of her words finished, Margaret and Betty stared at
her and at each other, for the audacity and fearfulness of this plot
took their breath away. It was Margaret who spoke the first.
"You must not do it, Betty," she said. "Why, when the man found you out,
he would kill you." But Betty took no heed of her, and thought on. At
length she looked up and answered:
"Cousin, it was my vain folly that brought you all into this trouble,
therefore I owe something to you, do I not? I am not afraid of the
man--he is afraid of me; and if it came to killing--why, let Inez lend
me that knife of hers, and I think that perhaps I should give the first
blow. And--well, I think I love him, rascal though he is, and,
afterwards, perhaps we might make it up, who can say?--while, if not----
But tell me, you, Inez, should I be his legal wife according to the law
of this land?"
"Assuredly," answered Inez, "if a priest married you and he placed the
ring upon your hand and named you wife. Then, when once the words of
blessing have been said, the Pope alone can loose that knot, which may
be risked, for there would be much to explain, and is this a tale that
Morella, a good servant of the Church, would care to take to Rome?"
"It would be a trick," broke in Margaret--"a very ugly trick."
"And what was it he played on me and you?" asked Betty. "Nay, I'll
chance it, and his rage, if only I can be sure that you and Peter will
go free, and your father with you."
"But what of this Inez?" asked Margaret, bewildered.
"She will look after herself," answered Inez. "Perchance, if all goes
well, you will let me ride with you. And now I dare stop no longer, I go
to see your father, the Senor Castell, and if anything can be arranged,
we will talk again. Meanwhile, Dona Margaret, your affianced is nearly
well again at last and sends his heart's love to you, and, I counsel
you, when Morella speaks turn a gentle ear to him."
Then with another deep curtsey she glided to the door, unlocked it, and
left the room.
* * * * *
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