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whisperings about her, no, nor even of Morella or of Margaret, till she
reached the open space in front of the bar where Peter and his guards,
gazing with all their eyes, hastened to make place for her. There she
curtseyed thrice, twice to the queen, and once to the king, her consort;
then, turning, bowed to the marquis, who fixed his eyes upon the ground
and took no note, bowed to Castell and Peter, and lastly, advancing to
Margaret, gave her her cheek to kiss. This Margaret did with becoming
humility, whispering in her ear:
"How fares your Grace?"
"Better than you would in my shoes," whispered Betty back with ever so
slight a trembling of her left eyelid; while Margaret heard the king
mutter to the queen:
"A fine peacock of a woman. Look at her figure and those big eyes.
Morella must be hard to please."
"Perhaps he prefers swans to peacocks," answered the queen in the same
voice with a glance at Margaret, whose quieter and more refined beauty
seemed to gain by contrast with that of her nobly built and
dazzling-skinned cousin. Then she motioned to Betty to take the seat
prepared for her, which she did, with her suite standing behind her and
an interpreter at her side.
"I am somewhat bewildered," said the king, glancing from Morella to
Betty and from Margaret to Peter, for evidently the humour of the
situation did not escape him. "What is the exact case that we have
Then one of the legal assessors, or alcaldes, rose and said that the
matter before their Majesties was a charge against the Englishman at the
bar of killing a certain soldier of the Holy Hermandad, but that there
seemed to be other matters mixed up with it.
"So I gather," answered the king; "for instance, an accusation of the
carrying off of subjects of a friendly Power out of the territory of
that Power; a suit for nullity of a marriage, and a cross-suit for the
declaration of the validity of the said marriage--and the holy saints
know what besides. Well, one thing at a time. Let us try this tall
So the case was opened against Peter by a public prosecutor, who
restated it as it had been laid before the queen. The Captain Arrano
gave his evidence as to the killing of the soldier, but, in
cross-examination by Peter's advocate, admitted, for evidently he bore
no malice against the prisoner, that the said soldier had roughly
handled the Dona Margaret, and that the said Peter, being a stranger to
the country, might very well have taken them for a troop of bandits or
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