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him and departed, walking upon air.
How splendid and handsome this foreign gentleman was, she thought to
herself, really a great cavalier, and surely he admired her truly. Why
should he not? Such things had often been. Many a rich lady whom she
knew was not half so handsome or so well born as herself, and would make
him a worse wife--that is, and the thought chilled her somewhat--if he
were not already married.
From all of which it will be seen that d'Aguilar had quickly succeeded
in the plan which only presented itself to him a few hours before. Betty
was already half in love with him. Not that he had any desire to possess
this beautiful but foolish woman's heart, who saw in her only a useful
tool, a stepping-stone by means of which he might draw near to Margaret.
For with Margaret, it may be said at once, he was quite in love. At the
sight of her sweet yet imperial beauty, as he saw her first,
dishevelled, angry, frightened, in the crowd outside the king's
banqueting-hall, his southern blood had taken sudden fire. Finished
voluptuary though he was, the sensation he experienced then was quite
new to him. He longed for this woman as he had never longed for any
other, and, what is more, he desired to make her his wife. Why not?
Although there was a flaw in it, his rank was high, and therefore she
was beneath him; but for this her loveliness would atone, and she had
wit and learning enough to fill any place that he could give her. Also,
great as was his wealth, his wanton, spendthrift way of life had brought
him many debts, and she was the only child of one of the richest
merchants in England, whose dower, doubtless, would be a fortune that
many a royal princess might envy. Why not again? He would turn Inez and
those others adrift--at any rate, for a while--and make her mistress of
his palace there in Granada. Instantly, as is often the fashion of those
who have Eastern blood in their veins, d'Aguilar had made up his mind,
yes, before he left her father's table on the previous night. He would
marry Margaret and no other woman.
Yet at once he had seen many difficulties in his path. To begin with, he
mistrusted him of Peter, that strong, quiet man who could kill a great
armed knave with his stick, and at a word call half London to his side.
Peter, he was sure, being human, must be in love with Margaret, and he
was a rival to be feared. Well, if Margaret had no thoughts of Peter,
this mattered nothing, and if she had--and what were they doing together
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