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the other side of the arena, and, looking thither, saw the strangest
sight that ever his eyes beheld. Over the railing of the pavilion
opposite to him a woman climbed nimbly as a cat, and from it, like a
cat, dropped to the ground full ten feet below, then, gathering up her
dress about her knees, ran swiftly towards him. It was Betty! Betty
without a doubt! Betty in her gorgeous garb, with pearls and braided
hair flying loose behind her. He stared amazed. All stared amazed, and
in half a minute she was on them, and, standing over the fallen Morella,
"Let him be! I bid you let him be."
Peter knew not what to do or say, so advanced to speak with her, whereon
with a swoop like that of a swallow she pounced upon his sword that lay
in the sand and, leaping back to Morella, shook it on high, shouting:
"You will have to fight me first, Peter."
Indeed, she did more, striking at him so shrewdly with his own sword
that he was forced to spring sideways to avoid the stroke. Now a great
roar of laughter went up to heaven. Yes, even Peter laughed, for no
such thing as this had ever before been seen in Spain. It died away, and
again Betty, who had no low voice, shouted in her villainous Spanish:
"He shall kill me before he kills my husband. Give me my husband!"
"Take him, for my part," answered Peter, whereon, letting fall the
sword, Betty, filled with the strength of despair, lifted the senseless
Spaniard in her strong white arms as though he were a child, and his
bleeding head lying on her shoulder, strove to carry him away, but
Then, while all that audience cheered frantically, Peter with a gesture
of despair threw down his dagger and once more appealed to their
Majesties. The king rose and held up his hand, at the same time
motioning to Morella's squires to take him from the woman, which, seeing
their cognizance, Betty allowed them to do.
"Marchioness of Morella," said the king, for the first time giving her
that title, "your honour is cleared, your champion has conquered, and
this fierce fray was to the death. What have you to say?"
"Nothing," answered Betty, "except that I love the man, though he has
treated me and others ill, and, as I knew he would if he crossed swords
with Peter, has got his deserts for his deeds. I say I love him, and if
Peter wishes to kill him, he must kill me first."
"Sir Peter Brome," said the king, "the judgment lies in your hand. We
give you the man's life, to grant or to take."
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