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eyes and hair. Oh, Peter! are you a fool, that I at my age should have
to teach you how to court a woman?"
"Mayhap, Sir. At least I can do none of these things, and poesy wearies
me to read, much more to write. But I can ask a question and take
Castell shook his head impatiently.
"Ask the question, man, if you will, but never take the answer if it is
against you. Wait rather, and ask it again--"
"And," went on Peter without noticing, his grey eyes lighting with a
sudden fire, "if need be, I can break that fine Spaniard's bones as
though he were a twig."
"Ah!" said Castell, "perhaps you will be called upon to make your words
good before all is done. For my part, I think his bones will take some
breaking. Well, ask in your own way--only ask and let me hear the answer
before to-morrow night. Now it grows late, and I have still something to
say. I am in danger here. My wealth is noised abroad, and many covet it,
some in high places, I think. Peter, it is in my mind to have done with
all this trading, and to withdraw me to spend my old age where none will
take any notice of me, down at that Hall of yours in Dedham, if you will
give me lodging. Indeed for a year and more, ever since you spoke to me
on the subject of Margaret, I have been calling in my moneys from Spain
and England, and placing them out at safe interest in small sums, or
buying jewels with them, or lending them to other merchants whom I
trust, and who will not rob me or mine. Peter, you have worked well for
me, but you are no chapman; it is not in your blood. Therefore, since
there is enough for all of us and more, I shall pass this business and
its goodwill over to others, to be managed in their name, but on shares,
and if it please God we will keep next Yule at Dedham."
As he spoke the door at the far end of the hall opened, and through it
came that serving-man who had been bidden to follow the Spaniard.
"Well," said Castell, "what tidings?"
The man bowed and said:
"I followed the Don as you bade me to his lodging, which I reached
without his seeing me, though from time to time he stopped to look about
him. He rests near the palace of Westminster, in the same big house
where dwells the ambassador de Ayala, and those who stood round lifted
their bonnets to him.
"Watching I saw some of these go to a tavern, a low place that is open
all night, and, following them there, called for a drink and listened to
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