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inn to which they had been recommended. Here, although he stared at
their garments, on finding that they had plenty of money, the landlord
received them well enough, and again they were fortunate in securing
rooms to themselves. It had been their purpose to buy Spanish clothes in
this town, but, as it happened, it was a feast day, and at night every
shop in the place was closed, so they could get none. Now, as they
greatly desired to reach Seville by the following nightfall, hoping
under cover of the darkness to find and come aboard of their ship, the
_Margaret_, which they knew lay safely in the river, and had been
advised by messenger of their intended journey, it was necessary for
them to leave Oxuna before the dawn. So, unfortunately enough as it
proved, it was impossible for them to put off their Moorish robes and
clothe themselves as Christians.
They had hoped, too, that here at Oxuna Inez might overtake them, as she
had promised to do if she could, and give them tidings of what had
happened since they left Granada. But no Inez came. So, comforting
themselves with the thought that however hard she rode it would be
difficult for her to reach them, who had some hours' start, they left
Oxuna in the darkness before any one was astir.
Having crossed some miles of plain, they passed up through olive groves
into hills where cork-trees grew, and here stopped to eat and let the
horses feed. Just as they were starting on again, Peter, looking round,
saw mounted men--a dozen or more of them of very wild aspect--cantering
through the trees evidently with the object of cutting them off.
"Thieves!" he said shortly. "Ride for it."
So they began to gallop, and their horses, although somewhat jaded,
being very swift, passed in front of these men before they could regain
the road. The band shouted to them to surrender, and, as they did not
stop, loosed a few arrows and pursued them, while they galloped down the
hillside on to a plain which separated them from more hills also clothed
with cork-trees. This plain was about three miles wide and boggy in
places. Still they kept well ahead of the brigands, as they took them to
be, hoping that they would give up the pursuit or lose sight of them
amongst the trees. As they entered these, however, to their dismay they
saw, drawn up in front of them and right across the road, another band
of rough-looking men, perhaps twelve in all.
"Trap!" said Peter. "We must ride through them--it is our only chance,"
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