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at the same time spurring his horse to the front and drawing his sword.
Choosing the spot where their line was weakest he dashed through it
easily enough but next second heard a cry from Margaret, and pulled his
horse round to see that her mare had fallen, and that she and Castell
were in the hands of the thieves. Indeed, already rough men had hold of
her, and one of them was trying to tear the veil from her face. With a
shout of rage Peter charged them, and struck so fierce a blow that his
sword cut through the fellow's helmet into his skull, so that he fell
down, dying or dead, Margaret's veil still in his hand.
Then they rushed at him, five or six of them, and, although he wounded
another man, dragged him from his horse, and, as he lay upon his back,
sprang at him to finish him before he could rise. Already their knives
and swords were over him, and he was making his farewells to life, when
he heard a voice command them to desist and bind his arms. This was
quickly done, and he was suffered to rise from the ground to see before
him, not Morella, as he half expected, but a man clad in fine armour
beneath his rough cloak, evidently an officer of rank. "What kind of a
Moor are you," he asked, "who dare to kill the soldiers of the Holy
Hermandad in the heart of the King's country?" and he pointed to
the dead man.
"I am not a Moor," answered Peter in his rough Spanish. "I am a
Christian escaped from Granada, and I cut down that man because he was
trying to insult my betrothed, as you would have done, Senor. I did not
know that he was a soldier of the Hermandad; I thought him a common
thief of the hills."
This speech, or as much as he could understand of it, seemed to please
the officer, but before he could answer, Castell said:
"Sir Officer, the senor is an Englishman, and does not speak your
"He uses his sword well, anyhow," interrupted the captain, glancing at
the dead soldier's cloven helm and head.
"Yes, Sir, he is of your trade and, as the scar upon his face shows, has
fought in many wars. Sir, what he tells you is true. We are Christian
captives escaped from Granada and flying to Seville with my daughter, to
whom I pray you to do no harm, to ask for the protection of their
gracious Majesties, and to find a passage back to England."
"You do not look like an Englishman," answered the captain; "you look
like a Marano."
"Sir, I cannot help my looks. I am a merchant of London, Castell by
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