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at night, loving magnificence at heart, it was his custom thus to
indulge in it, even when there were none to see him. From the way in
which he stood, and the look upon his face, Peter knew at once that he
was much disturbed. Hearing his step, Castell wheeled round and
addressed him at once in the clear, decided voice which was his
"What is this I am told, Peter? A man killed by you before the palace
gates? A broil! A public riot in which things went near to great
bloodshed between the English, with you at the head of them, and the
bodyguard of his Excellency, de Ayala. You arrested by the king, and
bailed out by this senor. Is all this true?"
"Quite," answered Peter calmly.
"Then I am ruined; we are all ruined. Oh! it was an evil hour when I
took one of your bloodthirsty trade into my house. What have you
"Only that I want my supper," said Peter. "Those who began the story can
finish it, for I think their tongues are nimbler than my own," and he
glanced wrathfully at Margaret, who laughed outright, while even the
solemn d'Aguilar smiled.
"Father," broke in Margaret, "do not be angry with cousin Peter, whose
only fault is that he hits too hard. It is I who am to blame, for I
wished to stop to see the king against his will and Betty's, and
then--then that brute," and her eyes filled with tears of shame and
anger, "caught hold of me, and Peter threw him down, and afterwards,
when he attacked him with a sword, Peter killed him with his staff,
and--all the rest happened."
"It was beautifully done," said d'Aguilar in his soft voice and foreign
accent. "I saw it all, and made sure that you were dead. The parry I
understood, but the way you got your smashing blow in before he could
thrust again--ah! that----"
"Well, well," said Castell, "let us eat first and talk afterwards. Senor
d'Aguilar, you will honour my poor board, will you not, though it is
hard to come from a king's feast to a merchant's fare?"
"It is I who am honoured," answered d'Aguilar; "and as for the feast,
his Grace is sparing in this Lenten season. At least, I could get little
to eat, and, therefore, like the senor Peter, I am starved."
Castell rang a silver bell which stood near by, whereon servants brought
in the meal, which was excellent and plentiful. While they were setting
it on the table, the merchant went to a cupboard in the wainscoting, and
took thence two flasks, which he uncorked himself with care, saying that
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