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in the future," he added significantly, "even more. War draws near,
Margaret; this city and all its rich territories will fall into the
hands of Spain, and afterwards I shall be their governor, almost
"And if I refuse?" asked Margaret.
"Then," he answered sternly, "you bide here, and that false lover of
yours bides here, and your father bides here to take the chance of war
as Christian captives with a thousand others who languish in the
dungeons of the Alhambra, while, my mission ended, I go hence to play my
part in battle amongst my peers, as one of the first captains of their
Most Catholic Majesties. Yet it is not to your fears that I would
appeal, but to your heart, for I seek your love and your dear
companionship through life, and, if I can help it, desire to work you
and yours no harm."
"You desire to work them no harm. Then, if I were to fall in with your
humour, would you let them go in safety?--I mean my father and the Senor
Brome and my cousin Betty, whom, if you were as honest as you pretend to
be, you should ask to bide with you as your wife, and not myself."
"The last I cannot do," he answered, flushing. "God knows I meant her no
hurt, and only used her to keep near to and win news of you, thinking
her, to tell truth, somewhat other than she is."
"Are no women honest here in Spain, then, my lord Marquis?"
"A few, a very few, Dona Margaret. But I erred about Betty, whom I took
for a simple serving-girl, and to whom, if need be, I am ready to make
"Except that which is due to a woman you have asked to be your wife, and
who in our country could claim the fulfilment of your promise, or
declare you shamed. But you have not answered. Would they go free?"
"As free as air--especially the Senora Betty," he added with a little
smile, "for to speak truth, there is something in that woman's eyes
which frightens me at times. I think that she has a long memory. Within
an hour of our marriage you shall look down from your window and see
them depart under escort, every one, to go whither they will."
"Nay," answered Margaret, "it is not enough. I should need to see them
go before, and then, if I consented, not till the sun had set would I
pay the price of their ransom."
"Then do you consent? he asked eagerly.
"My lord Marquis, it would seem that I must. My betrothed has played me
false. For a month or more I have been prisoner in your palace, which I
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